Big Ideas, Awesome Art in 25 Seconds or Less: Big Marsh Micro Summit

December 04, 2014
  • Big  Marsh  Micro  Summit

Snowball fights. Date rides. Mud wrestling.

Friends of Big Marsh brought their A-game ideas—and their sense of humor—for events as well as potential donors to the Big Marsh Fundraising Micro Summit November 6 at SRAM.

Thirty bike park fans gathered over Chipotle and Half Acre beer to learn about the fundraising needs and strategy to build the bike park at Big Marsh by Fall 2015.

The Chicago Park District will spend more than $30 million to realize the eco-recreation vision for the entire 290-acre site. The bike park costs $4 million of that. SRAM and the Friends of Big Marsh have committed to raising $2.2 million towards the park.

After a brief overview of the park’s design by Joel Baldin and Rob Reuland of Hitchcock Design Group, Dan Stefuik of SRAM and Steve Buchtel of Trails for Illinois explained that fundraising for the bike park can happen at the grass roots level through efforts like crowdsourcing and events, and at the “big ask” level which invites corporations and other donors to join SRAM as a “founders level” supporter of Big Marsh. SRAM has provided the first $500,000 towards the $2.2 million goal.

Experienced fundraisers Garth Katner of West Town Bikes and Ruth Anne Renaud of World Bicycle Relief offered brief and helpful guidance regarding the overall strategy, tactics, and the pitfalls to avoid for both approaches.

  • Big  Marsh  Wee

The night was about harvesting ideas—even the crazy ones—from the craniums of the gathered Friends. With 25 seconds to respond to each prompt from Steve Buchtel, the group scribbled furiously with markers to get their answers and art down on big sheets of butcher’s paper. A sample of the prompts include:

  • What one word describes Big Marsh to you
  • If Big Marsh were a contestant on America’s Got Talent, what talent would it demonstrate?
  • Draw yourself having fun at Big Marsh
  • Name one event you’d like to have at Big Marsh in the next year
  • Pretend you’re SRAM’s owner Stan Day, and you want to make just three calls to raise $1.7 million. Whom do you call?

The drawings are hilarious, and thankfully G-rated. You can see them at

The night ended with Friends signing up for teams to help develop a crowdfunding campaign, a strategy for inviting large donors to participate, and for events.

Do you have skills and/or ideas you’d like to contribute to Big Marsh? Sign up for a team at Have questions about the teams? Contact us at