Monday, September 23, 2013

We Did It!

On Sunday Sept. 8, a quorum of Challengers, both veterans of the sport and first-timers, gathered at the Slammer Tavern under sunny skies. Their purpose: to celebrate the 10-Year Anniversary of the recreational/cultural phenomenon known as Challenging, or undertaking a symbolic land/water journey without the aid of money, motors or bridges. And: to raise funds for Nangu's Grocery, an income-generating gathering place and affordable store in Babati, Tanzania. Sound incongruous? Then you have obviously never participated in a Portland Challenge before! Around 2pm, to the thundering accompaniment of the Last Regiment of Syncopated Drummers, the multigenerational parade began its journey through the Buckman neighborhood and Central Eastside Industrial District. It was all convertibles and dancing camels till just before Water Avenue. Then, in a moment of decisive action, Challenge organizer Jay Boss Rubin was forced to hold up the parade while he waited for a series of speeding trains to pass. Safely across Water Avenue and onto the Eastbank Esplanade, somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 Challengers completed the final stage of their land journey then entered the Willamette River under the Hawthorne Bridge. Following the crossing, the group shower at Salmon Street Springs and the ceremonious loading of the Shoe Boat onto a rented school bus, the band of Challengers returned to whence they came for an afternoon of rooftop New Wave, rock 'n' roll and Swiss-o-Rican hip-hop. All in all,it was one of the funnest and certainly one of the most heartfelt Portland Challenges ever. The next day, exhausted organizers awoke at dawn to begin work on a more stationary production: "Diary of a Madman" at the serendipitously named Headwaters Theater. As of September 23, the Portland Challenge and the associated theatrical production have brought in approximately $3,500 in proceeds for Nangu's Grocery. With one week of fundraising remaining, the effort to launch the beneficiary project as robustly as possible still has a fighting chance of reaching its goal of $5,323. Want to help? Donate online via Indiegogo or write to arrange for a donation via cash or check. What to expect next: It is safe to say that the Portland Challenge is "back" after its six-year hiatus, but it is equally safe to say that the Portland Challenge is not exactly back as an annual event. Let it suffice that the notoriously unpredictable Challenge Gods predict a strong likelihood of some variation of the event unfolding in the Summer of 2015. Till then, Challenge on as individuals or in small groups (safely, please!) and thank you all very much for all the support you have given as participants, contributors, advisers, performers and witnesses to the rich, ongoing tradition known as Challenging. The 2013 Portland Challenge will live on in our hearts, in our memories and in this excellent video on YouTube by Laurel Kurtz. THANK YOU ALL!!!

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