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Glitzy Alice Awards spawn a free version

Posted by on February 9th, 2010 at 10:27 am

Graphic from the Too Po’ Fo’ Alice
event website.

As a reaction to the high price of tickets for the BTA’s Alice Awards & Auction fundraising gala, a group of well-meaning Portland bike activists have announced their own version — the “Too Po’ Fo’ Alice Potluck.”

On the event’s Facebook page, organizer of the potluck, Matt Picio writes,

“Do you have $100+ to go to the BTA’s Alice Awards this year? I don’t. Whatever you think of the BTA, that night is when the BTA recognizes that there are other people (gasp! who might not even be MEMBERS!) who also contribute to the bicycle community in Portland – and we also think they should be honored. So we’re going to an AFFORDABLE awards dinner that same night, and give our own awards to the Alice nominees who we feel have contributed most to Portland’s bike community.”

Picio also makes it clear that this event is “partly tongue-in-cheek” and that he feels the BTA “does a lot of good work.” But he also writes that that good work comes at a price:

Alice Awards and Auction-30.jpg

“What started as a community event is starting to look solely like a fundraiser for the elite. The beauty of the “Alice of Olde” is that it brought together grass-roots advocates with Portland’s biggest names in bikes, in business, community and government. Hopefully it will be so again, but in the meantime – we’re having our own little shindig!”

The Alice Awards are the BTA’s largest annual fundraiser. According to their financial statements, the 2008 event brought in just under $60,000 in charitable contributions. The event has grown in recent years and attendance was about 750 last year. Tickets for the event cost $75 dollars.

More details on the Too Po’ Fo’ Alice Potluck, and reactions from those who plan to attend, on the event’s Facebook page.


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Comments
  • Ethan February 9, 2010 at 10:56 am

    Great idea.

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  • Mark Allyn February 9, 2010 at 11:17 am

    Can you please copy out the announcement for those of us who don’t have a facebook account?

    Thanks

    Mark

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  • vanessa February 9, 2010 at 11:27 am

    Saturday, June 5, 2010 at 6:00pm
    End Time:
    Sunday, June 6, 2010 at 3:00am
    Location:
    To Be Determined, but it’ll be free!
    Description
    Do you have $100+ to go to the BTA’s Alice Awards this year? I don’t. Whatever you think of the BTA, that night is when the BTA recognizes that there are other people (gasp! who might not even be MEMBERS!) who also contribute to the bicycle community in Portland – and we also think they should be honored. So we’re going to have an AFFORDABLE awards dinner that same night, and give our own awards to the Alice nominees who we feel have contributed most to Portland’s bike community.

    (this is partly tongue-in-cheek, the BTA does do a lot of good work – but at a cost, and what started as a community event is starting to look solely like a fundraiser for the elite. The beauty of the “Alice of Olde” is that it brought together grass-roots advocates with Portland’s biggest names in bikes, in business, community and government. Hopefully it will be so again, but in the meantime – we’re having our own little shindig!)
    Photos

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  • Matt Picio February 9, 2010 at 11:41 am

    A location will be determined after we have a better idea of the approximate size and plan accordingly. Thanks, folks!

    Again, as I’ve said on this site many a time, I think the BTA does a lot of great work, and Alice has been the BTA’s way of publicly recognizing those in the community who advance the cause of bicycle transportation. But the focus of the event is definitely changing – which is not a bad thing, just something different. This event is for all of those who can’t go, won’t go, or are just looking for something different. If you support Safe Routes to Schools, advocacy at the state and national levels to change the law, or the BTA’s other programs, please give to the BTA, whether through the Alice event, or otherwise. If you support grass-roots, keep Portland weird, bike culture, or flaming unicyclists with wild hair and tattoos jumping off a dock into the river on a bike chariot – you want our party, and we welcome you!

    BTW, we expect our party to go a LOT later than the BTA party, so when they’re done, you folk at Alice are welcome to come by and have additional fun!

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  • BURR February 9, 2010 at 11:42 am

    Good to see someone doing this! I hope some of the people that have been repeatedly nominated for Alice awards but are too ‘fringe’ for the BTA end up receiving some of these awards. I’m thinking of long-time Critical Mass stalwarts Fred Nemo and Sara Stout, for example.

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  • rev February 9, 2010 at 12:07 pm

    sounds excellent! strange to have it before pedalpalooza?

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  • jordan February 9, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    Not that I am always in support of everything that the BTA does, but I think this is mistake. Successful non-profits need to have funding and fundraisers such as the Alice Awards are a good way of going about it.

    I have attended 2 Alice Awards and it seemed to me that there was a good cross section of the bike community. I think it is mistake for the health of our cause to set-up a competing event.

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  • Jeff TB February 9, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    It isn’t competing Jordan. The invite specifically calls for people who can’t afford to attend the BTA event. Face it. Attending BTAs Alice Awards IS expensive. Between tickets for my wife and I plus babysitter for our kids, probably a $200 hit for us. I could give $50 to BTA, attend the other party and save some cash.

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  • Michael February 9, 2010 at 12:49 pm

    This is great, let every bike commuter celebrate! Why not have it on another day as not to compete?

    The ‘Alice of Olde’ was a celebration for a grassroots effort, but the scope of that effort has expanded and so too must the BTA (requiring the same of their budget).

    I’m happy to see the Alica Awards increasing in cost. Having been to Alice and other charity events several times I kept thinking: Why can’t Alice raise $300,000 in a paddle raise like a health research charity event? Part of the answer lies in the fact that many of the attendants are scraping up pennies to attend and selling out the event before many larger wallets in Portland can buy tickets.

    Aren’t we all after the same goal: less pollution, less multi-lane eyesore highways, healthier living?

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  • jocko February 9, 2010 at 1:01 pm

    Matt! Great idea I will be in attendance for both “alices”. You might get a better response from BTA folks (maybe some support) if you got rid of the BTA strike out on your logo, I imagine that is what got #7s ire up. It just seems a little disingenuous to say “the BTA does a lot of good work” and then sort of dis them with your image. my 2 cents.

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  • sh February 9, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    “What started as a community event is starting to look solely like a fundraiser for the elite.”

    This claim is unfair and completely mean in spirit.

    Fundraising events of this sort for non-profits very typically come with a higher priced admission ticket. It’s understood that the ticket price helps to underwrite part of the expense of orchestrating the event, even if there’s an ancillary activity, such as an auction. There’s nothing extraordinary about an $85-$100 ticket price for an annual event such as the Alice awards or for a PICA fundraiser or an OBT fundraiser, for that matter- creating a professional-level event is not inexpensive, and fundraisers are an important component of any non-profit’s ability to operate.

    Simply because not everyone can afford to attend the event does not translate into it being elitist. For many people in Portland a sub-$100 ticket is within their means when the benefitting organization is one that they wish to support.

    Sadly — and despite Matt Picio’s backpedaling — the Too Po- Fo’ Alice’s (lame) graphic makes it clear that this is just another intentional nose-thumbing at the BTA.

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  • Steve B. February 9, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    Outstanding idea! I did not consider that there might be an alternative to a big awards ceremony which I could not afford. Thanks for creating that opportunity.

    I’d also say that this sort of playful tension is a good thing, and it helps our movement stay on point. We live in an age where criticizing non-profits is tacitly forbidden, a true disservice to enhancing an organization’s effectiveness.

    Let’s giggle, poke a bit, and then hold hands with the BTA and ride off into the sunset.

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  • maija February 9, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    I’ve always attended Alice at a reduced rate by volunteering either at the event or in the weekends prior. Just putting another option out there for folks who do want to attend, but are low on cash.

    I think usually they give volunteers a rate that covers the cost of dinner charged by the caterer. And there are a TON of different roles for volunteers to play.

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  • Matt Picio February 9, 2010 at 2:03 pm

    sh (#11) – The BTA has transitioned Alice from a low-cost event that drew in the entire public and allowed people from radically different segments of the bike community to mingle to a high-cost event that few of the “fringe” can afford. Alice’s fundraising normally comes through the auction. This event is now priced beyond the means of many, and it’s now a discouragement for many to go. I’d characterize that as elitist. And while the ticket price for Alice isn’t released yet, rumor has it that it’s no longer “sub-$100″.

    “Backpedalling” is a bit harsh – if you care to search the archives, I’ve been a guarded supporter of the BTA for years. I’ve volunteered for them on numerous occasions, including the last 2 Alice Awards dinners. I was a member for a year, and am currently a household member. I support their programs, and I’ve both defended and criticized their board and staff, but only as I felt the facts and circumstances warranted it. I stand by what I’ve said, can you do the same, “sh”?

    This is not a nose-thumb, nor a “competing” event. It’s a reinforcing event acknowledging the celebration of bikey people for those who can’t afford a $100 dinner ticket, or choose not to.

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  • Bill Stites February 9, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    I just checked at the BTA website, and there is still no info on ticket price … some are saying 75, some 100?? I think it was 85 last year, which priced me out.

    They used to do ‘living lightly’ and/or scholarship levels. I wonder if they’ll do that this year.

    I very much look forward to the alternate event – thanks to Matt and crew for envisioning this! It’ll feel good to settle back down to grassroots levels.

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  • bob February 9, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    Suggestion: Lose the anti BTA graphic and pass the hat at the alternate Alice Awards. Even if you collect $0.37 and give it to the BTA, you will be working in the same direction just from differing economic strata. What we really can not afford is to pull apart the fabric of the bike community, all of whom are working toward positive changes.

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  • AaronF February 9, 2010 at 2:51 pm

    Suggestion: After the Alice event both groups can get together and have a rumble.

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  • twilliam February 9, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    Be sure to put on your blackface before mentioning that you’ll be attending! That way, black people will know what yo be talkin’ ’bout at the Too Po’ Fo’ Alice event!

    Stupid white people.

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  • AaronF February 9, 2010 at 4:07 pm

    Don’t you mean “da” Too Po Fo Alice event?

    We can’t afford no words like “the”

    :(

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  • twilliam February 9, 2010 at 4:12 pm

    Whatcha talkin bout AaronF? Even teh Negros will want to be attendin teh event! Why, there should be advert that says Mistah Doctah King will be there survin grape soda!

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  • Jackattak February 9, 2010 at 4:13 pm

    I like bob # 16′s suggestion.

    Great idea, Matt! See everyone at both parties!

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  • are February 10, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    the racial angle
    http://www.lil-abner.com/strip.htm

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  • Matt Picio February 10, 2010 at 6:29 pm

    twilliam (#17) – I lived in the south for 6 years, and I can say with some confidence that words like ‘po and ‘fo are part of the vernacular for lots of low income folk of every color and creed.

    If you want to accuse me of being too well-off to be considered low-income, I’ll take that as a valid criticism, but racial context on this one is not implied, only inferred.

    If you’d like to talk about it further, a quick Google search of my name will reveal my contact information.

    Respectfully,
    -Matt Picio

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  • matt picio February 20, 2010 at 9:27 pm

    Final post from me – I’ve heard a few complain that the graphic appears anti-BTA, which I most emphatically am not. So I’ve changed the graphic to something less contentious that makes it clear I’m against removing the low-cost, all-inclusive event that Alice once was. I don’t have any problems with a high-cost dedicated fundraiser, but the BTA should continue having an inexpensive “for the people” event that brings the whole community togther. In the spirit of that, the new graphic hopefully reflects that. (note to new readers – the graphic attached to this story is the OLD graphic)

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