Your Call MN at Grandma's Marathon
This past weekend, with the partnership of our friends at Turn It Up Media, Perodigm was able to bring our public awareness campaign "Your Call MN" to the Essentia Health Fitness Expo in Duluth, Minnesota. It may seem like an odd pairing at first, but this event is part of the Grandma's Marathon weekend, one of the biggest events in the northern half of the state, and a key area of focus for the organizations represented through Your Call MN.
Grandma's Marathon, which kicked off it's 45th year on June 19th, brings thousands of people to the Duluth area. This year, close to 9000 participants ran the 26.2 miles along Lake Superior from Two Harbors, MN to the finish line at Canal Park. The Expo, which doubles as the packet pick-up for the runners, ran two days prior to the race, and was open to friends, family, and the public. There you could visit dozens of vendor booths, pick up some swag, and even get a massage or two.
In a sea of running shoe sales and pain relief creams, our booth, decked out with a large television screen playing Our State. Their Lives. Your Call on repeat, stood out as a bit of a shock to the system. Most people did a double take as they passed by. It may not have blended in with the rest, but that's also the point. Stationed in a center aisle, we were able to make quite a few impressions.
Grandma's Marathon has a history of community consciousness. They partner with organizations like Good Will to coordinate shoe and clothing collection at the race. They make it a priority to participate in eco-friendly and sustainable initiatives that recycle, repurpose, and donate race materials and food whenever possible. The inclusion of an awareness campaign combating human trafficking was a welcome addition to Grandma's Marathon's goal of being more than just a race.
Unsurprisingly though, we were not the most popular booth. And that is understandable. It's a pretty hard left turn to go from race excitement to the heavy topic of sex trafficking. But that's not to say we were ignored completely. We included Your Call MN materials in each race packet (masks, pens, stickers, etc.), and had many runners seek us out for more information, and that led to some great conversations. People told us about their jobs and how they intersect with different forms of possible trafficking. Nurses, teachers, people who travel interstate on business all took extra stickers to share at their work. Other people would come up to us, shocked at the statistics in our video. They found it hard to believe that it's such a large problem, but after talking about how it's not always white vans and hotel rooms, how human trafficking often hides in plain sight, eyes were opened. We had people come up to us to share stories of times that they saw something that didn't sit right with them, but at the time didn't know why. And we had people who suspected they saw trafficking but weren't sure what to do or who they could have gone to. We talked about how embedded in society this problem actually is and if you can even be sure that if you do report something, does it even go anywhere? We talked about those kinds of barriers and discussed that you don't have to be certain or even right, but if you get that gut feeling that something just isn't right, there are people who do have that job. We talked about Trust, and the BCA, and The MN Human Trafficking Investigating Task Force, all organization that have boots on the ground.
What we learned from this event is that if you create a space to have this difficult conversation, people will open up. They are willing to engage. So on that note, we would like to welcome you to our next Community Discussion, held on June 24th @ 5pm on our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/yourcallmn). Hope to see you there!