Voices Carry

Grant money is up for grabs this week at Portland’s Patagonia store.

March 28, 2011

Not that I ever really need an excuse to ogle the choice down jackets and the killing-me-softly organic threads inside the Portland Patagonia store, but here’s a solid reason to pay them a visit this week: You’ve just three days left to tell the store how it should dispense $5,000 in grant money to local environmental groups.

The giveaway is part of the company’s national Voice Your Choice campaign which was hatched to help spur grassroots environmental activism in local communities. It couldn’t be more democratic. Each year Patagonia distributes $5,000 to each of its 27 North American Stores and then lets customers vote on how to divvy up the goods between three preselected groups that are already doing some good in their area. The top vote-getter in each store takes home $2,500, second place nabs $1,500, and third place pockets $1,000.

All that ballot-casting adds up to $135,000 across the country and helps round out the close to $3.5 million Patagonia gives away each year—an amount that probably resembles the one you see blinking on the register when you go to buy one of their lighter-than-air down pullovers. Lordy this nano-puff regulator vest costs how much again? Still, it’s nice to know that there are some kickbacks to the community involved with this high flautin merch.

Here are the groups vying for votes locally:

Tualatin Riverkeepers

Opal Creek Ancient Forest Center

Friends of the Columbia Gorge

And just in case anyone is feeling especially benevolent, the Muddy Boot is also accepting donations for his closet. I tend to wear a size medium in most of Patagonia’s sized-for-Sasquatch jackets, pants, and shirts.

Of course, you could just go with one of their beenies—they’re one size fits all.

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