Saturday, March 3, 2012

Calling All Crows Alternative Break Tour - 3/2/12

By Nicole Parisi-Smith, Surfrider Portland Chapter

Chad, a member of the bands Dispatch and State Radio assembled a new band Chadwick Stokes & The Pintos for the purpose of recording the album Simmerkane II. (Check it out here.) The band is on tour in support of the album. They came through Portland, OR last night for a show at the Doug Fir Lounge.

The nonprofit that Chad and his wife Sybil founded in 2008, Calling All Crows is running an Alternative Break Tour (ABT) on the tour. A group of fans from all over the USA and Canada are traveling from show to show with the band, performing community service in the communities they visit along the way. The organization reached out to the Portland Surfrider Chapter to learn if we had a service project that they could participate in on the afternoon of the Doug Fir Lounge show. We were so excited to work with Calling All Crows again, and to get to meet and work with their volunteers on the City of Portland's Green Street Program.

The City of Portland recently completed the construction of a new pipe that prevents raw sewage created in residents' homes and city businesses from backing up into those same buildings, and overflowing into Portland's waterways during storm events. As part of this effort the City of Portland is constructing "green streets" around the city. These are basically gardens specially designed to provide habitat to local species, prevent excessive amounts of rainwater from entering the sewage system via the stormdrains, keep our urban environment cool, make the city more bike and pedestrian friendly, and to beautify the city. The city has installed 1,000+ of these green streets (gardens) since the first garden was installed back in 2010. City workers attend to each garden on a quarterly basis. Residents volunteer to maintain the gardens between visits. Since only 50-60 of the gardens currently have volunteer caretakers, we stepped in yesterday to clean up the gardens located near the Douglas Fir Lounge.

Rick, Anna, and I from the Chapter met the Calling All Crows volunteers at the Jupiter Hotel, adjacent to the Douglas Fir Lounge at 4pm for a quick introduction to Surfrider and the City of Portland's Green Street Program. Outfitted in vests and gloves, we then took a walking tour of the neighborhood, stopping at each garden. We cleaned the debris out of the cuts in the curb that allow rainwater to wash from the streets and sidewalks into the gardens. This ensures that rain can travel from the streets and sidewalks into the gardens, where the water is absorbed by the soil and plants and naturally treated before cycling back into the environment. We also collected mountains of trash that we found in the gardens. (Did you know that cigarette butts are made out of plastic and are therefore not biodegradable? Yep. We made special efforts to pick those up.) All told, we collected about six large buckets of trash, a small pile of recyclables, and had a great time talking about why each person had chosen to be there yesterday.

Calling All Crows kindly invited the Surfrider volunteers to attend the show after the cleanup. We were right up front. Great night!

Thanks to all who came out to volunteer with us, and to Gregg and Pete from the Surfrider Portland Chapter, and Matt and Chris from Calling All Crows for putting this event together! Thanks, too to Anne and Emily in the City of Portland's Environmental Services office who educated us on the Green Street Program and permitted us to borrow some tools, the Jupiter Hotel for storing our tools behind the front desk and for inviting us to their art gallery opening to thank us for our community service.

And for all of you State Radio fans - Chad announced last night that they are working on a new album!

For more photos from the cleanup and concert visit our Surfrider Foundation Music Outreach Program Facebook page.

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