After scoring a great Oregonian article, the industrial-chic Holocene on SE Morrison was densely packed with environmentalists decked out in a typically NW diverse array of party-going garb -- from tuxedos to flannel shirts and blue jeans.
My favorite part of the evening was the live auction of nature themed photographic art (hence the name "Wild Shots") and other items. Crag's skillful handling of their biennial art benefit is a case study in how to suck money out of your supporters.
The formula is pretty darn simple: free booze (after buying a $25 ticket) plus inspiring "support us" stories plus quality auction items equals freeflowing bids.
Of course, I may be overemphasizing the importance of the first variable -- free booze -- given that I more than doubled my usual nightly alcohol consumption after drinking in fairly short order a beer and large glass of wine proffered by the busy "Wild Shots" barkeeps.
I felt pleasingly loose, which is exactly the frame of no-mind that a benefit auction should strive for.
Even so, for almost every moment of the live auction my bidding paddle wasn't raised -- in part because my non-drinking designated-driver wife was holding it under her coat in what may have been an attempt to protect our family finances from a mildly inebriated husband who adores the Crag Law Center in his normal state of consciousness and loves it after some beer, wine, and inspired mini-speeches from Crag attorney Ralph Bloemers and fellow Salem supporter Arnold Strong (an Iraq war veteran who shows that green and khaki go well together).
When the auctioneer lady began to plead for cash contributions that'd be matched up to $10,000 by an anonymous donor, my bid paddle hand began to twitch. In between a call for $1,000 and $25 donations I grabbed the paddle from my wife and made what may, or may not, have been a legally enforceable contribution commitment.
I suppose "your honor, they gave me free booze, then tugged on my heartstrings, and I couldn't help myself" could have been argued.
But not only wasn't I going to chance that when Ralph Bloemers recently won an important Oregon Supreme Court land use case, my VISA card soul remained completely content with the donation even in the clear-headed light of today.
The Crag Law Center does great work for amazingly little cost.
And their "Wild Shots" benefit is a highly enjoyable way to be separated from your money. Plus, their own. I saw that Crag staff were active bidders on auction items themselves.
(Of course, since they'd been at the event for longer than I had, booze may have loosened their wallets even more than it had mine. Which raises a theoretical legal question: can employees of a law firm sue themselves for alcohol-induced charitable enticement?)