Pulling Weight For Social Causes: United Way and the pull to solve #UNIGNORABLE issues

As advocates of arts and culture in Calgary and the surrounding area, BassBus has built itself on a foundation of positive relationships and collaborations to further creativity and community. We have helped hundreds of artists, businesses, charities and community organizations celebrate their people and patrons in dynamic and creative ways, and execute visions of togetherness, positivity and engagement.

Plane Pull 2018, courtesy of United Way Calgary and Area

Plane Pull 2018, courtesy of United Way Calgary and Area

That is all well and good, but as conscious members of our community we know there is more to life than fun and celebration. The vast mosaic of our culture can lead to complex, sometimes troublesome situations for people. Though we have focused our business and organization on moments of joy, we have the responsibility and desire to encourage and support all moments in life.

Just as BassBus is a beacon of familiarity for arts and culture, United Way is a beacon of familiarity for charitable support, an organization dedicated to just those moments of struggle and overcoming for vulnerable people all over Calgary. As one wing of a multinational charity, United Way of Calgary and Area is a formidable presence taking on the #UNIGNORABLE issues in our community. The money that goes through their hands funds over 100 programs dedicated to enabling people and lifting them from poverty. 

As United Way continues its journey toward prosperity for all, it does indeed have reason to connect with aficionados of celebration like BassBus. After all, in order not to stigmatize and pigeonhole populations in need of support in the fight against poverty, we can all do with some fun, uplifting moments of solidarity and positivity as we march towards equality and universal care.

Enter the Plane Pull. BassBus is now a partner and supporter of a literally huge moment of togetherness in the fight against poverty, the beginning of an ongoing investment of time and energy into the community we all live, work and play in. Until September 14th, teams of motivated, community minded Calgarians can register to see how fast they can pull an actual full sized plane down a runway. The goal? $125,000 in support of the fight against poverty. Kids can get in on it too, with a smaller plane for the little ones.

We got in touch with Yvette Biggs, United Way’s VP of Marketing and Communications, to talk Plane Pull and United Way’s commitment to fighting #UNIGNORABLE issues through charity, visibility, and unity. 

SubText: Let’s start with the Plane Pull. Can you speak to the history of that event, and what growth it has experienced leading up to this year’s version?

Yvette: Plane Pull started in June 2012 as an opportunity to team up with UPS and together deepen our community impact.  In the first year, Plane Pull raised close to $30,000. In 2013, the same year of the Calgary floods, the event raised $100,000. Since then, Plane Pull has become an established community fundraiser, raising more than $700,000 over the past 7 years for our local community.

Each year we strive to make Plane Pull bigger and better than the year before. Our goal is to get our community motivated to help solve Calgary's #UNIGNORABLE issues and to make the day an enjoyable experience for individuals and families.  A favourite family event is Kids Pull, where kids (age 7 to 17) can join a team captained by a University of Calgary Dino and help pull a plane and raise money for their community.  

Batman keeping the kids honest at the Kids Plane Pull

Batman keeping the kids honest at the Kids Plane Pull

SubText: An event like the Plane Pull is great for visibility for the cause of United Way, it is literally a huge event. As much as United Way is dedicated to creating substantial programs that create tangible positive results for people in need, how much of United Way’s role is to create visibility and conversations? 

Yvette: Our role is not just about funding vital programs, but about doing work around systems change to bring people together to solve complex issues.  We want the community to learn about the #UNIGNORABLE issues impacting Calgarians where they live, work and play. We want people to engage with our messages and stories of real people being affected by real issues. Some of the ways we do this are through social media, advertising and great events like Plane Pull.

SubText: The more that common citizens do to make poverty #UNIGNORABLE the more attention the issue gets, and the more people can create prosperity and happiness for themselves. Aside from giving money and attending events, how does United Way encourage Calgarians and all conscious citizens to unignore poverty and face it head on? What types of conversations can we have around the dinner table and at our workplace to move the issue forward?

Yvette: Knowledge is a powerful change agent. Learning more and becoming informed about a variety of #UNIGNORABLE social issues is a great start!  Once you become informed about those issues, find those that matter most to you and take action. You can do local good by volunteering, advocating and donating. Every action counts.

SubText: What drew United Way to connect with BassBus for this project? How are we helping to execute your vision for a dynamic and profile-building Plane Pull event, and other events in the future?

Yvette: We believe in building great local partnerships with innovative and socially conscious organizations like Bassbus. Since we each have unique audiences, projects like this help bring people together to create fun, engaging experiences like Plane Pull. By working together, we have the opportunity to share our message with audiences that may not have interacted with United Way before. Increasing our reach to help build a strong community where everyone thrives.

The 2019 edition of the Plane Pull will feature upbeat, accessible musical programming, a variety of yard games, face painting, the city’s finest food trucks on site to keep your plane pulling fires burning, and top tier professional sound and audio production to keep the entire day moving along smoothly, all supported by BassBus.  

BassBus is elated to move into a long term relationship with United Way that will deepen our relationship to the community around us. Since 2011 we have been dedicated to community development through arts and creative engagement, so it is an honour to transfer that expressive experience into a context explicitly dedicated to the betterment of populations in need and people working through poverty. 

Check out United Way Calgary and Area’s website here for full details on Plane Pull 2019. On September 15th, 2019, swoop on over to the UPS Customer Centre at 22 Aero Drive NE and fly into fun! Kids can register for their own Plane Pull at this website, while adults can register teams over here!

James Nason