Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A busy weekend...

(RED) volunteer crew!
Originally uploaded by Brande Jackson

The (RED)/ONE teams were out in full force across the country this past weekend!

We met back up with Common, talking to fans at his shows in Minneapolis and Milwaukee. Common’s tour is proving to be a really amazing experience – we talk to countless fans that are really excited to get behind the idea of what (RED) is working to do. Our field team commented that they couldn’t believe how many people they met over the two nights this weekend that had been to or were going to Africa, doing projects with other ngo’s and even on their own. As always, the Common team was super supportive and helpful – we are really excited about the remaining dates of the tour!

Our Dave Matthews Band team was also hard at work, taking on Texas this weekend. We got thousands of fans involved with ONE and (RED) while in Houston and Dallas, working, as always, with a bunch of very cool volunteers to make it happen. We had a super crew join us in Houston, including long time ONE volunteers Tracey, Al and Lisa, as well as new volunteers Kelly, Sarah, Luke, Cindy, Fernando and Katie. The team did great – hitting the ground running, so to speak, after going through their training! The next night in Dallas proved to be even more successful – we had a great location right around the curve of the west concourse. Somehow, all of our volunteers arrived within 5 minutes of each other – always a good sign of how the evening would go! Joining us to help in Dallas was Kelly, a fifth grade teacher, Robert, Elliot, and Eliza, all students, and Melody and Cheryl, long time friends and advocates of the ONE Campaign and (RED). Since all of our volunteers were familiar with the campaign, training was a snap, and we all had a little time to relax before the doors were open to the fans. Once the venue was open, our crew was all business, everyone staying out the entire time without rest, only returning to the booth to get more sign up sheets. The booth was in full swing as well thanks to a great location, and many new people as well as several old friends of the campaign stopped by to show their support. By the end of the night, our high energy crew was getting pretty tired, but this didn't stop them from staying till the very end – all of our volunteers stayed for the full effort! Great crew, super attitude, and just and all around fun team!

ONE/(RED) volunteer crew

We also were getting our inner yogi on with Global Mala in Los Angeles. (RED) took part in this first time event, recruiting lots of new support for our work and spreading the word in a big way how much (RED) had raised for the Global Fund. Attendees were very impressed to learn that (RED) had raised 45 million in our first year of existence – and they were very interested in checking out the (RED) products we had on display so they could continue to contribute! We were joined by a great team of volunteers here as well – Drea, Jenny, Melodie and Maria came from all across LA and Orange Counties to join us, and Thomas even came up all the way from Oceanside, where he lives with his fellow Marine’s, to help out! Sunday was a bit slower, but we still had fun hanging out with Lena, a UCLA student, and Carol and Roquel, hospice workers that joined us for the afternoon.

All things combined, it was a big weekend for (RED) and ONE, as we continued to work to build support across the nation! Watch for updates as the Dave tour comes to California and Common hits the east coast next week!


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Fighting AIDS in Africa with Common!

We were really excited to get our partnership with Common launched this past weekend! Common is the spokesman for Converse (RED) – lending his voice and name to help fight AIDS in Africa. Though this tour is a short one, we are very eager to get to talk to his fans all across the country about how they can join us in this fight against AIDS and poverty. Check out the tour dates on Common’s website and myspace page – be sure to stop by and say hi if you are at any of the shows!

We kicked off our outreach project in Dallas this past Saturday night. We were lucky to have two great volunteers join us. Jimmy is a self described ‘huge U2 fan’ that first learned about (RED) through his interest in the band. Amy has been involved with poverty and AIDS related work for a while now – she also volunteers at a local elementary school, helping underserved youth, when not going to school full time. They both showed up sporting (RED) Chuck Taylor’s as well – I couldn’t ask for more! After helping me finish setting up, we went through a training, and before I knew it, my team had placed themselves right at the entrance and were catching nearly every other person walking in! On Sunday night in Austin, I was joined by Cristina, a UT bio-medical engineering student. She is studying ways to help curb the AIDS epidemic globally, and has been involved with the ONE Campaign for some time now. Like my crew on Saturday, she too jumped right in and started getting lots and lots of people signed up and informed.

Common fans show us their love.

I was really impressed by how knowledgeable and supportive Common fans were with the campaign – I met several Gap employees, in fact, that told me how much they liked (RED) and what it was doing. As always, we also talked to social workers, people who had volunteered in Africa and students studying poverty related issues – I’m always amazed at the diverse experiences the fans we talk to have had. Plus, everyone was very eager to play around with the two computers we have set up and opened to www.makeminered.com - I saw some very impressive shoe designs during my weekend in Texas, and likewise, fans were excited to know that by designing and ordering their shoes and ‘making them red’, they could also contribute to the Global Fund.

A big thanks to our volunteers and the Common crew for being so helpful and supportive during our first few days. Our next shows are in Minneapolis and Milwaukee – watch for more info soon!

Florida: part two

(RED) and ONE volunteers!
Originally uploaded by Brande Jackson

We continued our trek through Florida this past weekend, working to spread the word about ONE and (RED) to Dave Matthews Band fans in West Palm Beach. The shows were a big success – lots of people got signed up and involved, our volunteers were great, and we even were spared the worst of Florida’s rain – especially in comparison to the night we had in Tampa!

Friday night we had yet another great crew of volunteers join us. Jeanette and Mariel hit the lawn with great success, while Brenda and Maika canvassed the concourse and helped out at the booth. Our second group of volunteers arrived, and once they received their training we were at full force! The constant flood of eager fans kept us busy right up until show time, and by the time the music started we were all ready for a break as we regrouped for the second half. Once the band was done, the flood of fans reversed its path as 18,000 people headed for the gates. Our second group of volunteers, Bo, David, Wendy, Jordan, and Eric all put forth a great final effort working the gates and catching many of the exiting fans, while Jeanette and Mariel headed up the concourse and yard area, and Maika helped pull fans into the booth. Great crew, accessible venue, and no rain: all in all, a very good night!

West Palm Beach volunteer crew

Saturday got off to a bit of a mild start – the crowd seemed to trickle in at a little slower rate than last night, and this gave us a chance to walk the lawn a little more before the show. We had three volunteers, as opposed to our usual average of seven or eight, and this made things a little more difficult, but our team was definitely on top of the game! Nancy came out full force, returning to the table twice sporting full sheets on her clipboard, and Tricia and Dinorah weren't the least bit intimidated by the mass of party people crowded on the lawn. The booth saw its fair share of curious and interested fans, and lots and lots of fans went home with new ONE shirts. What are the odds that there would be five fans that would fit the extra small women’s EDUN shirts in the same day? We also had a little lizard hanging out on our table all night – this IS Florida – we tried to convince fans it was Dave’s pet lizard and we were watching it for him, but people weren’t believing us.

All in all, we had a very eventful week in Florida – thanks to our stellar crew of volunteers who joined us! We’re heading off to Texas next, more updates soon…

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Oh Florida...

We’ve had an adventurous few days here in Florida so far. I don’t think I’ve ever come to Florida for shows and came back with a report that is was ‘normal’ or ‘kinda boring’. SOMETHING of note always seems to happen in the Sunshine State, and typically that something will involve bugs, heat and/or bad weather.

Gainesville got off to a bit of a rocky start. The venue was much smaller than anyone had anticipated – we were able to have a table inside, but we couldn’t float around like we normally do. So that meant our table was in, but our volunteers were out. It ended up working fine though – we had an amazing team join us, and they pretty much talked to about every other person that was coming to the show!

Our team of volunteers included Tricia, who had volunteered with us at the Daytona 500 NASCAR event last year, Brady, a freshman at UF who has been involved with ONE for a while but was volunteering for the first time, and Christine and Leah, UF students who definitely figured out the best way to get their fellow students on board with our work! We also had Holly and Jaimie joining us, and Yee, a UF law student who was technically suppose to be volunteering for another non-profit, but that non-profit couldn’t set up and since she was already there, she joined us! They all did AMAZING – this was seriously one of the best volunteer crews we’ve worked with all year long! I love nights like the night we had in Gainesville – the odds were stacked against us, the day started off with everything going wrong, but our volunteers all showed, we had a great training, and they worked harder than we could have ever asked and even looked like they were having a good time doing it!

Tampa Volunteer Crew

We hit Tampa the next afternoon, ready to work, and deal with Florida’s never ending late summer rain. We were expecting a typical light summer Florida shower while we set up. We were able to set up with no problems, we went through another great volunteer training with no problems, and we got to work with no problems, but then our luck turned. Our light summer shower turned out to be a storm of what seemed like apocalyptic proportions. Before we knew it our tents had turned into a shelter for a bunch of very wet DMB fans and our bewildered volunteer crew. Our team in Tampa included Joe, a first time volunteer who came to the show with his friend Katherina, Penny who was a first time volunteer, Missy and Dave, a couple from upstate New York who are going to school in Florida, and Sam and Kelley, who get bonus points for offering to come volunteer with about 12 hours notice! The team did great, getting hundreds of Dave fans signed up before the rain cut our night short. Loading out wasn’t much fun, but so it goes!

My team will be in West Palm Beach this weekend, and I’m heading off to start the Common Tour in Dallas – watch for more updates soon!


Sunday, September 09, 2007

ONE and (RED) in Piedmont Park!

ONE and (RED) got to take part in the massive – and some fans are saying historic! – show at Piedmont Park this past weekend. We hit up Atlanta with clipboards, white bands and stickers in hand! The show this weekend was unusual – 60,000 people in Piedmont Park and the show was a double bill with the Allman Brothers Band – pretty chaotic, but also a lot of fun.

Unfortunately, we didn’t have much of a volunteer turn out this weekend – I think people were freaked out by the size of the show and the fact that you had to take public transport and couldn’t park. Because of that, we were extra excited to have Elaine from Birmingham join us – she was already coming to the show and volunteered to spend several hours of her time with us behind the booth. We were really grateful for her help – we were pretty busy back there, and my touring partner Joe was spending most of his time floating around getting sign ups, so I definitely needed the help! I hadn’t seen Elaine since she volunteered with us at one of the U2 shows back in the fall of 2005, so it was great to get to hang out and catch up. She is one of our super volunteers – always doing amazing work for ONE and (RED) in her community in Alabama, having been involved with the campaign since its launch three years ago – we bonded over being among the small group of old timers that have been around since 2004! She also was able to fully explain to me exactly what ‘croakies’ were, and how they connected to certain styles of DMB fans…

All night long we got to meet fan after fan that was excited to be involved with ONE and (RED). In the process of talking to thousands of people, I somehow managed to become the best friend to a group of about eight 7th grade boys. They kept coming back to the table - first they were just hanging out, wanting to know ‘what can I get for free?!?!?!’, giving me flashbacks to Warped Tour. I talked to them about the campaigns though (the fact that I teach elementary and middle school aged kids when not touring definitely helped!) and eventually they all signed up and all took pins. Then they came back to get stickers.

(RED) and ONE supporters

Then they came back yet again, so I gave them all a white band on the condition that they’d each get at least three of their friends to go online and join the campaigns. They obliged, so I took their photo as a group. I then I had to sign a ‘contract’ on a piece of scrap paper stating that I most absolutely promised to put their photo online (I posted it on my flickr site, and I’m hoping BN also posts it on the (RED) blog or I might have problems…) or else they would sue me. I explained that I work for non-profits and thus had nothing to sue for, but that did not seem to register with them. Then they declared I was the coolest person at the show that day. They stopped by a few more times throughout the afternoon, somehow managing to find yet more 7th grade boys to bring with them to sign up, so I guess they are already working to make good on their word!

We also met lots of other cool people – many wearing and carrying Product (RED) items, a fan from Africa, a teacher working ONE into her curriculum this year, and countless others. Sometimes you can feel like you live in a bubble – you wonder how far these campaigns reach, but night after night of doing this work always reminds me of how people will always find their place, their purpose and calling and run with it.

We’ve got some Dave shows in Florida coming up early this week, and then I am taking off from DMB to launch an all new (RED) project with Common, something I’m really excited about. As always, more updates soon…


Monday, September 03, 2007

We survived another weekend at the Gorge!

The Gorge shows this past weekend were a great success – even if they got off to a windy start! Immediately after setting up our booth, we were greeted with near hurricane force winds. Most of the other vendors around us broke their tents down, be we decided to keep ours up, even if it meant we spent most of the night hanging on, trying to keep them from going airborne!

We trudged on though, working to turn Washington (RED) and spread the word about ONE. Friday night we had veteran volunteer Sammi join us, coming in from Seattle, as well as Rachel and Carnie, first time volunteers who got involved via (RED) and drove all the way up from Portland. The crew did great – they kicked off the weekend in style, getting hundreds of DMB involved with fighting AIDS and poverty. Rachel and Carnie really seemed to have a good time – they were excited by how receptive people were to hear what they were talking about. As always, the night was full of unique stories – people planning trips to Africa, Peace Corp volunteers and more – I am always amazed at the extent of stories we get to hear doing this work.

We had a great team on Saturday night – Kelly and Jason are leaders of the ONE Spokane group. Kelly is a high school teacher who was in Uganda earlier this summer, and he also brought two of his students along, Jamie and David. David is property of the Navy as of Wednesday, so we were very honored that he choose to spend the last of his free time with us. He and Jamie have been active with ONE and other Africa focused organizations at their high school. Sandra drove in with Jason and Kelly – she to is active with ONE in Spokane. Kristina was a first time volunteer who signed up to volunteer via (RED) – she came in a bit late and missed part of our volunteer training, so we were concerned that she wouldn’t feel 100% in doing outreach, but she proved us wrong, and ended up getting more sign ups than anyone! Tim had joined ONE at a U2 show a few years back, he’s not totally sure how he got on my volunteer list, but he was glad he did! Ryan first learned about (RED) via the Vanity Fair (RED) issue earlier this year – this was his first volunteer experience and he did great. Rounding out our team was Sammi from Seattle, for her second night in a row. I couldn’t even find most of our volunteers while they were working – they took to the lawn as soon as we were done with our training and talked to hundreds of fans in the process. We ended up having one of our best nights of the whole tour thanks to this amazing crew!

DMB fans find room for (RED) and ONE amongst their Madis Gras beads...

Sunday brought more wind, and more great volunteers. Jennifer and Sean both are involved with the ONE Spokane group, and both are also teachers. Sean teaches college part time, and Jennifer is an elementary school teacher. We also had Colette and Zach join us, a couple from Seattle that got involved as volunteers through (RED). And of course, Sammi joined us again as well! Once again, our volunteer team proved to be rockstars, getting a ton of DMB fans involved with ONE and (RED).

All weekend long, we were greeted with flashes of white bands and thumbs up from those that had joined us at an earlier show or on another tour. I also met two fans who had to buy new bands because their dog ate theirs, the best story I heard all weekend! We met countless people who shared what they were doing to fight poverty and AIDS in their own community, and heard from dozens of people that had already bought (RED) products and were excited to learn they could do more.

ONE/(RED) volunteers Rachel, Carnie and Sammi

A special thanks to all of the volunteers that helped out this weekend – because of the location of the Gorge, everyone had to drive at least an hour and a half to join us, and we really appreciate the time and commitment of you all. A extra special big thanks to veteran volunteer Sammi, who went so far as to get a motel room so she could join us all three nights – AND she even brought me and Brian cookies!

On that note, I also want to give a quick shout out to our boy Brian 'Red Hawk' Averill – this weekend ended his summer touring as he has to head back to school tomorrow. Brian first joined us as an intern last summer and came on as a staff person this year – he’s been a true trooper, covering everything from Bonnaroo to Warped Tour to the Dave Tour, and he manages to do an amazing job in the face of constant teasing (for being from Wisconsin, for saying ‘bag’ funny, for wearing mandals, for having a red beard…) from me and the rest of our team!

We’re heading to Atlanta next (assuming that check engine light that keeps coming on in the truck doesn’t mean anything really bad…) where I’ll be joined by our New Guy Joe – watch for more updates soon!


Saturday, September 01, 2007

R.I.P Warped Tour 2007

ONE volunteers at Warped
Originally uploaded by Brande Jackson
It took our boy Brian "Red Hawk" Averill a whole week to recover from finishing Warped Tour (and some heavy handed nagging on my part) but he finally did a quick write up of his final two days of punk rock and poverty!


I went solo the last couple shows of Warped Tour, but both San Diego and L.A. had amazing volunteer crews and (relatively speaking) mild weather.

San Diego’s volunteers braved the sun at my request and did a great job of drawing people into the tent to talk about ONE, Oxfam, and the occasional voter registration. The diversity of our volunteers always impresses me, assuming we have the chance to talk. When a lull developed at the tent we discussed climate change, permaculture, lobbying in D.C., and other topics. Meeting new sets of volunteers every day leads to an erosion of names and faces so I apologize to the many San Diego volunteers whose names I can’t remember (I warned you).

Oxfam volunteer at Warped San Diego

While we had a higher number of sign ups in San Diego, the eleven person crew in Los Angeles decided to set the high mark for the tour. Among the many amazing volunteers we had that joined us were veteran volunteers Rachel, Viola and their friend Daniel. Rachel and Viola volunteered with us for Witness last summer, and they came out to help with ONE this time around.

We also had the pleasure of being deafened by the additional stage featuring Fear, Agent Orange, and the volunteers’ favorite: Revolution Mother. In fact we were treated to two Revolution Mother lectures; the contents of which may be found some place on YouTube.

Thanks to everyone for volunteering on Warped this year. It’s been sweaty.