I recently took a hiatus from posting on my blog (except for last month’s interview with Claire Diaz-Ortiz, head of social innovation at Twitter) because I landed an awesome new job coordinating social cause campaigns at Groupon on the G-Team.
While I’m pretty ecstatic about using Groupon’s platform in my journey through the cause world, I’ve also been thinking about how causes have a tendency to make people feel guilty or defensive.
It’s the artist in me who likes to think of coordinating cause campaigns kind of like how an artist produces a piece of art. Art can break up how we see things by offering new ways of seeing the world.
This is why I want to give a shout out to a cause-campaign bursting with creativity here in Chicago- Tour de Fat. Here are five reasons why Tour de Fat’s annual tour through Chicago makes me loopy, unable to sleep, and all ga-ga about the cause world:
1) My friends, this is a good excuse to ride your bike. So let’s just state the obvious first and elaborate later.
2) In every city where Tour de Fat stops, one person ONLY gets chosen to exchange their car for a custom made touring bike. Check out the above video of the lucky guy at Chicago’s Tour de Fat this summer who dodges doors for a “door prize.” Ha!
3) 100% of the proceeds of your graceful, crazy-indulgent biking and drinking on a summer day in Chicago will for one day benefit a local bike shop, West Town Bikes. Tour de Fat raised $20,000 for West Town Bikes this year.
And let’s be real by asking the very important question, who could have drank that much beer and raised that much money alone?
3) My favorite form of theater, Commedia dell’arte, comes alive every year with Tour de Fat. Commedia dell’arte was connected to traveling carnivals in Italy during the 14th through 17th centuries. While Tour de Fat challenges social mores like the idea that cars rule the world, Commedia dell’arte made fun of the social order like the upper-class. It used stock characters like Pinochet, who made a wealthy man slip on a banana peel.
3) Tour de Fat celebrates sustainable technologies.
4) Families with kids who love bikes hang out with people who don’t have kids and who like bikes. Lots of different people at Tour de Fat makes this event fun for everyone…
5) My friend Phil is last, (yet not least), in my five reasons why Tour de Fat is my biggest crush this summer. Phil manages to bedazzle adoring fans every year by wearing a cape every year and soliciting signatures from hundreds of people at Tour de Fat, all without pausing between drinking a Fat Tire and a 1554 beer.
Putting Phil’s red cape aside, I think there is a tenuous balance between having fun, watering down a message, and making people feel guilty about causes. Tour de Fat seems to walk the tightrope between these things quite handsomely, balancing them on its shoulders, and this makes me want to swoon. This crush o’ mine reminds me that I would rather blush and stumble on my words around cause campaigns like Tour de Fat than adore campaigns which sit in the cogs and wheels of other less inspirational cause-campaigns…
What is your most fabulous crush in the cause world?