A Portable Shade Canopy is a Place to Socialize
Of all the equipment I can think of that would behoove an ongoing activist group or any other kind of group to own, the most beneficial is a portable canopy. A family or nonprofit may wonder if buying a canopy is worth the cost, but this equipment can be surprisingly useful.
Here are some of the benefits of owning a canopy:
Creates a natural gathering spot for group or family members.
Provides shelter and increases comfort.
Helps with group promotion.
Assists with authenticity of the group.
Canopies Provide a Place to Gather
There's something about a canopy that implies being home away from home - like a tent, only more public than private. It plays this homing role at whatever type of event a group sets it up for. Here are some things you can do with a canopy:
- Parades or marathons - Creates a space for group members to cheer the paraders on, and for paraders to rest at the end of their labors. You can add a card table under it with juice, water, light snacks, and chairs for the less mobile.
- Picket lines - The canopy becomes the central gathering spot and resting place for picketers. It's where picketers can sign in when they arrive and deposit their signs when they leave. Under it you can provide light snacks and water, and store extra picket signs and the makings for signs.
- Public events - Here the canopy becomes the cover for a promotional table and displays. Add a couple of extra chairs and visitors can rest for a bit, too, and chat.
Public hikes - Two canopies can contain information tables for the start and ending places of public education walks or hikes, and include sign-in sheets and brochures.
Outdoor retreats - If a group decides to hold a campout in the mountains or on a beach, the canopy becomes the central eating/meeting place for the group. One group can also share the canopy with other groups who don't have one.
The last time you were under a canopy, where was it?
Canopies Provide Shelter
A canopy is made to provide shelter from the elements. It shades inhabitants from the sun on a hot day, protects them from rain and/or snow on a cold one, and with those that have walls or screens that can be lowered, also shelters inhabitants and objects inside from the wind and/or slanting rain. It creates a sense of privacy, without shutting anyone out.
Canopies do come with or without "walls." Walls make it really nice in situations where the canopy is located at the rear edges of events. If the back of a display feels exposed and somewhat unsafe, you can just unroll a wall to protect that back side. Another good reason for a wall is to use it as a backdrop for displays on easels.
Canopies Can Show a Group's Purpose
In the case of public events that are primarily promotional, a canopy with walls provides additional space for light displays inside. The hanging edges of the canopy top are also good to hang light objects from. At a fair I went to recently, the group had brought in a big tree bough representing native trees that had just been bulldozed by the county government. They wove the tree branch into the struts that supported the canopy and it became a very attractive, interesting feature of the display.
At a spiritual retreat I went to a couple of years ago, we hung chimes, crystals, and hanging mirrors from the canopy. Underneath it we placed rugs on the ground, had a couple of lightweight papasan chairs filled with pillows, and some small tables with candles and potted plants and little artifacts. It was very attractive and homey, bespeaking the nature of our group, and we had lots of people come to just sit for awhile.
Attractive Canopies Attract Visitors
A canopy attracts visitors from a distance, especially if it has a colorful sign or banner stretched across the front, or hanging from the top. It helps a group to stand out from other groups or neighboring displays. And because the canopy is mobile, it can be moved to a more advantageous spot, if its initial placing is too awkward or hidden. Note that a canopy that starts out white doesn't have to stay that way. It can be enhanced with colored covers, dyes, or even paint.
Small and Large Canopies
Identifiable Canopies Authenticate Groups
If you choose to mount the name or logo of your group onto the canopy, this can serve to make the group appear better established in the eyes of visitors. After all, it is assumed, there must be a certain longevity and level of commitment for a group to have bought and decorated a canopy. They obviously intend to be around for awhile. If the group has an interesting, public-supportive message, the canopy can actually lend authenticity to the message, as well, and add to the pride a group member feels when approaching "their" shelter.
Well-Chosen Canopies Have Easy Setups
A central requirement for a good canopy is that it be easy to set up and take down. If it isn't, many groups will not bother using it and may even regret having purchased one. On the other hand, one that is easy to use, when combined with its other features - the homeyness, the pride, the attraction it holds - actually motivates members to want to help out with events. Canopies come in different sizes, from a small 8'x8' size to a 18'x20' size for large groups or vehicles. If a canopy somehow gets ripped with careless handling or is an old one borrowed from someone else, there are replacement canopy covers available online.