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By PAMELA THOMPSON, Northfield News
Oct 6, 2023 Updated Oct 10, 2023
What started as a casual conversation a few years ago between Anika Rychner, Erica Zweifel and Mary Laurel True turned into something much bigger.
The trio led the way in organizing the Runway Revival fundraiser, and it proved a smash hit.
Rychner, senior director at Community Action Center, Zweifel, assistant director of Community Impact, Center for Community and Civic Engagement, CCCE, and True, former manager of the Clothes Closet, wanted to develop a fun way to showcase the Clothes Closet, the CAC’s thrift store that profits that support CAC programs.
“It was actually not even a fundraiser,” said Rychner. “The conversation continued and things evolved quickly when we partnered with Carleton College’s Center for Community and Civic Engagement and started talking about highlighting environmental stewardship, the challenges that fast fashion creates, all the incredible partnerships and organizations in our community doing amazing work to reduce waste, and how CAC also contributes to waste reduction in our everyday work.”
The collision of ideas resulted in a late-August fundraiser that attracted 250 attendees. The sold out event was held at Carleton College’s Great Hall and raised close to $25,000. The 20 fashion pieces were created by 17 area designers. The requirement for the original clothing included that 90% of the design was made using upcycled or reused materials.
”More than the amount of money raised, we hope we are creating a fun, inclusive, low barrier opportunity for our community to come together,” said Rychner. “All this while supporting the work of CAC in providing food access, emergency and supportive housing, recovery supports, and more.”
She added that the measure of success would be based on an incredible experience that inspires people to take action while increasing inclusivity and addressing income inequality. “Creating a runway show with a focus on environmental sustainability felt like a really fun way to celebrate, educate, and inspire more action around waste reduction.”
More than the funds raised, Rychner said attendees reported appreciation for the ticket scaling system which addressed income inequality and attracted a widely diverse audience that included designers, models and attendees from all ages, ethnicities, and income levels.
All proceeds will support CAC in providing healthy food access, housing stability, recovery navigation, employment support, and much more. This year, CAC has experienced an increase in both need and services provided in response to those needs.
The emcees for the event were Angelica Linder, Outreach Coordinator, Northfield Public Library, Rachel Evangelisto, Miss Minnesota 2022, and Rychner. Models ranged in age from 10 to 75-plus years old.
According to data supplied by CAC, the fashion industry is the 6th highest polluting industry in the world, emitting 2.1 billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere each year, in addition to polluting waterways.
Erica Zweifel said the Runway Revival exceeded her expectations for a first time event. “From the amazing, talented artists and models to the crowd enthusiasm for our environmental stewardship theme,” Zweifel said. “A huge thank you to all who participated in and attended the event.”
Designer Dina Fesler said she didn’t have a specific quote to share at the moment, but wanted to plug a good read about a book Zweifel shared with her. “The book is called “All We Can Save— truth, courage, and the solutions for the climate crisis” by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Katherine Wilkinson. It’s really powerful and I hope every woman on the planet reads it.”
Plans are already underway for an expanded Runway Revival II for next August 2024 that will be moved inside Carleton College’s Weitz Center for Center for Creativity.