“There is a stigma to the people who support environmental efforts—y’know, granola people, treehuggers, pick the name—and I wanted to bring another energy to the effort. Look, a vodka company is sponsoring an environmental trip—that’s cool,” said Kevin Lilly, founder of the nonprofit organization What About Blue?. He hopes to raise awareness about the importance of water as a global resource by kayaking the length of the Mississippi, from Lake Itasca to New Orleans, on a trip sponsored by Crystal Head Vodka.
Lilly and his two guides, Danielle Katz and Brian Coggan, paddled into town last week to raise money during two events in Minneapolis: a low-key affair at Seven on Friday, August 21, and a party at the RocBar in the Ugly Mug on Augusts 22.
“Kevin was in his element [at the events],” said Katz. The native Floridian more at home in a bar than a campground—Lilly had never been camping prior to the trip—will spend a good deal of time living and traveling with “granola people.”
Katz may be an aspiring actress from L.A., but her eyes lit up at the mention of the bulk section at the Mississippi Market. Citing her inspiration to sign on, she seemed most excited about the journey itself. “I was excited about the idea of traveling from source to sea,” she said.
For his part, Coggan, from San Fransisco, blogs about becoming one with the river. “By seeing the world from the river’s perspective, I feel enabled to sympathize with it to a certain degree, to look from the river rather than onto it,” he wrote in his trip blog on August 8.
Differing perspectives in the group have already led to some political discussions. “As Brian says, water is a human issue; it shouldn’t be a left or right issue. Which side politically claims the environmental effort? It’s largely a left-based thing. We’re trying to change that,” said Lilly.
And everybody likes to drink, right? Team Blue raised about $600 during last weekend’s events by taking some of the proceeds from Crystal Head Vodka drink specials. All money raised during the trip will be split evenly among the Gulf Restoration Network, The River Network, and Blue Planet Run.
For more information on What About Blue’s partner charities, or for videos, blogs, or the GPS location of the kayakers, visit What About Blue?
Marinda Bland (email firstname.lastname@example.org) lives and writes in the Twin Cities.
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