Soulcraft Allstars: Part Two: Scoring goals
“What?” Jay Julius, Chairman of Lummi Nation said, looking incredulously at his phone as the lights and cameras from our interview setup pointed at him. “Sorry, but I’ve got to jump on my boat right now,” Jay said. We were filming a story about how the Lummi stopped the coal export terminal from coming to Cherry Point. But that would have to wait for another day. Fish pens had broken, spilling more than 250,000 farmed salmon into the Salish Sea. “If you can be ready now, you can come with us,” Jay said. Within minutes, we had one of our team members on Jay’s boat and a second boat to take our photographer and drone team to the San Juan Island site. We documented the Lummi Nation as they worked tirelessly to capture the “mutants” as Jay calls them so they would not impact the local salmon populations the Lummi depend on. We made a short movie called Mutants to help spread the story. We got our photos to the New Yorker, which ran a story about the Lummi Nation and the farmed fish pen disaster. The result: The storytelling around this disaster prompted Governor Jay Inslee to change a 30-year-old law and prohibit farmed salmon in our waterways by 2022.—Aaron Straight, Soulcraft Allstars
When Aaron Straight tells the story of Soulcraft Allstars, the “storytelling agency” he founded, the words he chooses are as illuminating as the facts themselves. Time and again, he refers to his company and his team as being “nimble,” and it’s a quality that speaks to the heart of Soulcraft’s identity.
It’s that nimbleness that allows Soulcraft to follow a story wherever it might lead, so when the plot shifts from a triumph of treaty rights over Big Oil to an environmental disaster unfolding in real time, the Allstars are able to take to the water, gear in tow, unsure of the catastrophe they’re about to encounter, but confident in their ability to help get the word out quickly and effectively. And, in doing so, they were able to enfold the net-pen collapse into the larger story of the Lummi Nation’s steadfast protection of the Salish Sea.
However, being nimble takes many forms, and when Soulcraft was asked by the Seattle Foundation to help achieve an ambitious fundraising goal as part of its one-day Give Big campaign, they proved themselves agile no matter the stakes involved.
“’You want to raise $20 million dollars in one day?’ I asked the Seattle Foundation leadership team,” Aaron said. “I told them, ‘We can help, but we’ll have to tell a great story in 60 seconds.’” The 60-second spot Soulcraft created featured a 6-year-old girl reading a letter she’d written to her hero, Seattle Sounder Jordan Morris, about the Type 1 diabetes they both share and her desire to, like the soccer star, “not just make goals, but achieve them.”
“We knew our audience was a strong mix of soccer fans and Seattleites,” Aaron said. We had to appeal to both, and we had to do it during halftime of the Sounders game as well as on local TV and social media. It had to work everywhere.” With Soulcraft’s help, people did indeed “Give Big,” and the Seattle Foundation hit its $20 million mark.
Now four years old, Soulcraft has built the kind of solid foundation that will allow them the opportunity to do something close to Aaron’s heart: tell the stories of his chosen home.
“We’ve gotten to collaborate with the Whatcom Community Foundation, the raspberry industry, and Sustainable Connections,” he said. “We are so proud to be from Bellingham and we dream of a day when we get to do more work in our own community. In the meantime, we sponsor local events, partner with the Lummi Nation on projects, and donate our services to a handful of projects that we feel are in need and fit our values. We love this community. This is our home.”
For more information about Soulcraft and so see examples of their work, find them at http://www.soulcraftallstars.com