By 11AM on the morning of Oregon's Sesquicentennial (150th birthday!) I'm staring down a box of 300 mini pies and sharing a "manmosa" (miller high life + orange juice!) with a guy covered entirely in gold body paint. This is the Oregon Bus Project's idea of post-election voter outreach.
Back in November, I wrote about political campaigns trying to channel new voters' Obama orgasm energy into post-election politics. How do you keep people interested in politics when it's as unsexy stuff like the Oregon State Legislative session? Well, pies help.
The plan was for forty or so volunteers to stock up on tiny pies from BiPartisan Cafe and descend on the streets of Portland, distributing the birthday treats while asking people about what they want to "give Oregon for its birthday." The first stop of the day was Pioneer Square, where volunteers flooded the Saks Fifth Avenue and the Starbucks. The volunteers ran around handing out the baked goods and asking if each pie-eater is they wanted to get involved with the bus and asked for their emails and phone numbers.
Running around Sac's Fifth Avenue with armfuls of pies and a guy impersonating the Pioneer atop the Oregon capitol building is a sure-fire way to make people swerve to avoid you. "Would you like a pie?" one volunteer asked a Sacs apparel clerk, "It's Oregon's Sesquicentennial!" "I don't even know how to spell that," replied the clerk. But some people stopped to check out the spectacle and the effort snagged a few new members for the Bus Project's email rolls - about a dozen during the 10 minute ambush.
Next stop: Powells, where it turned out skate punks have some level of interest in state politics.
And you know who was genuinely thrilled about both the pie and the political talk? That one guy who's always selling Street Roots on the corner.
Get the best of the Mercury each week in your inbox!