Scot Brodie: Concerts help local schools
Here is a wonderful example of the importance of supporting local business.
I work as a notary at The Gables, a small family-run retail store in the Outer Richmond District. One Saturday afternoon in 2006 while the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival was in full swing at Golden Gate Park, a woman came into the store to notarize some documents and make some purchases. This may sound weird, because it is not very profitable, but I love my work as a notary since it allows me the chance to get to know people in the neighborhood. As usual, I chatted with her a bit as we tidied up her paperwork, but was very surprised to hear that a concert goer had offered her $80 to park in her driveway.
As a former teacher for the SF Unified School District, fundraising is always in the back of my mind, and the gears started clicking.
My son had just started attending Argonne Elementary School, which has a huge playground area that is used for parking during PTO meetings. Argonne, I might add, is just a few blocks away from Golden Gate Park. I thought: What if we used the playground as a parking lot for the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, and the Outside Lands concert as well.
I ran the idea by some parents who all sprang into action. Long story short - that is exactly what we did and continue to do.
Since we started the "parking lot" fundraiser we have raised $30,000 for the school.
I suggested the idea to a parent at Lafayette Elementary and now that school, which has a big playground and is close to the park, has started doing the same thing. They made more than $10,000 with the recent Outside Lands concert and I'm sure just as much, if not more, for the Hardly Strictly concert.
Also, rumor has it that Jefferson Elementary School in the Sunset may join in on the act and I noticed Presidio Middle School participating as well. The way I see it, the more the merrier.
This year's Outside Lands was attended by more than 60,000 patrons (and that is the weekend concert that is not free). The Argonne lot only holds about 100 cars; Lafayette and Jefferson, I imagine, hold about the same, maybe a little more. Presidio Middle School can probably hold twice that amount. It is sad that schools have to earn extra money by becoming temporary parking lots, but it works. And, in a city corroded with parking problems, it sure beats a bake sale.
At one point we did try to contact concert promoters to inform them of our parking lot, but they didn't want to mention us in any of their adverts because the events were "green" and they wanted to discourage people from driving their cars.
I will have to say I was very impressed this year with Outside Lands' shuttle services.
Although many of the people that make use of our lot come from other states, I wonder if the promoter considers the road trippers who attend. I would like to add that the people who make use of the lot never complain about the amount ($25) and enjoy the fact that they're helping out the school. It's better than a $65 parking ticket, or worse yet, towing charges, both of which are not tax deductible.
This success story stemmed from someone shopping at a modest little mom and pop store. A great little occurrence that most of the people who frequent The Gables know nothing about. And, it's the gift that keeps giving - by the time my son graduates from high school more than $100,000 will be raised.
I can honestly say that this idea never would have come to fruition through a big box store or through an Internet site and if it did, "they" would let you know about it with banners and advertisements and of course take some of the money for themselves.
This happened because of people working together, not international sales figures, and the beauty of it is that everybody in the community benefits from it in some fashion. The schools earn money, there is less traffic congestion and parking problems in the neighborhood, concert attendees can enjoy the show without worrying about their automobiles or the "trail of tears" back to some faraway parking space.
If there is a lesson to be learned from any of this it is to avoid big box stores, do not purchase all your goods on the Internet, and support your local businesses because in some shape or form - they will support you.