Stay Brave Profile Films
In the summer of 2014, after a lot of time working overseas and the east coast on various digital and global campaigns, it seemed right to come home and highlight people in our hometown that represent our mantra of "Stay Brave". With our "Task Force" incubator program heading up the project, and with the help of other JZ crew members we created the following:
Caring for Giants
Jim Meyers is the lead arborist and owner of Hedgehog Tree Care. We contacted Jim and asked him to allow our team to document his process. As a result, we spent a couple days with Jim and the amazing guys at Hedgehog as they cared for Portland's massive and abundant trees. Seeing the Hedgehog team climb to the tops of the towering trees was awe inspiring and has become a real world reminder of what Stay Brave really means. Jim calls his team of arborists "athletes" and we can't think of a better description. The tremendous strength and technique used by the arborist matches the most demanding and technical sport. He was kind enough to hoist members of our team up to the tree-tops and though we were using cameras instead of chainsaws, we gained respect for this amazing job.
Wolf & the Bees
Wolf Carr keeps bees outside of Portland, Oregon and is the owner of Wolf Honey. As a part of our series, we were excited to spend a day with Wolf and his bees. It is not surprising that his calming presence both puts his bees at ease and also transfixed our team when listening to him discuss the plight of the honey bee, his personal philosophies of life and his approach to making absolutely delicious honey. Watching Wolf at work and then tasting Wolf Honey really took on new depth with his words about participating in something specific, unique and ultimately un-duplicatable. The entire process demanded to be captured on film, even if the camera operators looked like astronauts and may have been far less calming on the colony of bees.
There was something commanding about Ari Sonnenberg when I first met him. Listening to him talk was like sitting in my grandfather's living room, hearing stories. War stories. Appropriately veiled, an honesty arose that demanded respect and a version of thankfulness that is hard to define. Ari enlisted in the US Army when he was seventeen and was deployed to the most dangerous and taxing combat zones. Like many others, he left the service with a traumatic brain injury and PTSD to find a broken Veterans Affairs system. Throughout his military career, his transition back into civilian life and his battle with the VA, which culminated in his testifying in front of Congress, Ari's constant was his bicycle. He was kind enough to spend some time with us and tell his story as the third installment of our Stay Brave profile stories.
As the fourth installment of our profile series, it is no surprise that we found ourselves courtside (er...curbside) at the Rigsketball tournament. The game is basketball, or street ball, or whatever you call it when a drummer sets up a regulation sized basketball hoop on the back of his band’s van, holds the whistle for flying elbows and invites 32 Portland bands to compete in a basketball tournament. Sure, eye candy for those of us addicted to an Epic on a Movi and strapping GoPros to random stuff but what we found really compelling about Bim Ditson was that for him, Rigsketball is about building music community and fostering friendship and collaboration.
Normally, this is how it could work (from the perspective of a guy who plays in a band): a band arrives at a venue for a show, they unload their gear, maybe do a soundcheck--and then they wait. And wait. And drink. And wait. The other bands playing the venue that night are waiting too. Everyone is just sitting around. But introduce a basketball hoop to the scene and things change. I mean, it’s right out there in the parking lot, why not have a game? So that’s what happens. Bands play. They sweat. Rub shoulders. Talk. They make a connection, get to know each other and pretty soon they have a sense that they’re part of a larger community.
That’s how Rigsketball started. Now it’s an annual tournament here in Portland, OR, in which 32 local bands compete for a trophy (a gold statue of the rigsketball van, no less) and nothing else--except bragging rights. They play games in parking lots and alleyways all over town. This year, the bracket filled up in one day with bands wanting to compete. These are bands all over the spectrum, so now bands who wouldn’t have been on a bill together are meeting and making connections, sparking ideas, planning collaborations. In short, building that community. But none of this would have happened without Bim Ditson.
During our interview, Bim lounged his full 6’4’’ length (height not including his red mohawk) across the couch while he expounded upon the virtues of “sweating with someone.” “You bond a lot harder than when you’re, like, drinking Jameson or whatever it is bands do,” he told us. He knows because he started this whole thing. On tour with his band, And And And, Bim, first bolted a hoop to the back of his ‘93 Aerostar. Now, it’s on an elaborately painted Ford Econoline 350--and it’s regulation height. Once that was in place, Bim says, “I was like, ‘shit, I gotta run a basketball tournament. But I don’t know any basketball players. I only know bands.’ So then that happened.” Feeding back into Portland’s music community in this way comes naturally to him. “I don’t live in a community so that I can use it,” Bim says, “I live in a community to be part of it.”
As for us, we had a great time shooting the finals. There are no “out of bounds” in Rigsketball, so we were both on the court and in the action. Fierce action at that. Skinned knees and elbows and fingernail marks across the chest of at least one member of Hustle and Drone. The van itself comes into play during the games, as well; people pass off of it and use the bumper as a launchpad. “Basically, anyone can dunk,” says Ditson. This year, the Rigsketball tournament had a big upset when the band that came away with the trophy was not actually a band, but a comedy team calling themselves “Who’s The Ross?” Apparently, jokes aside, they are.