A Heart for Art and Coastal Conservation

November 22, 2021

Eeva Lantela (center), owner of DragonFire Gallery in Cannon Beach, and her dedicated team (including her beloved dog Charlie).

 

Eeva Lantela loves to bring art, beauty and inspiration to the community through DragonFire Gallery. However, she is also a proponent of environmental conservation. Through her gallery in downtown Cannon Beach, she’s developed and implemented a strategy to do both by fundraising for North Coast Land Conservancy, among other coastal nonprofits.

“I love the gallery, and I love supporting artists, and I like inspiring people,” Eeva says, adding that incorporating the fundraising aspect over the past several years has “brought another dimension and more meaning to the work.”

“I care so deeply about the environment and feel so blessed I get to live here,” she says.

She traces her efforts to support local organizations back to 2013, when she hosted a fundraiser for the Wildlife Center of the North Coast during the annual Stormy Weather Arts Festival.

“It was kind of that festival and the success of the funds we raised there that got me thinking,” she says. “I really wanted to start giving back to the community.”

Rather than making outright donations, Eeva considered how she might fundraise more strategically and make it a sustainable endeavor.

“I could make a donation of $100, but if I used that $100 to buy merchandise and then sell it at a markup, then I’ve actually doubled the money,” she says.

That’s one of her fundraising strategies: purchasing stock and contributing 100 percent of the profit from sales to local organizations like NCLC. Small items like puzzles, books and jewelry are big sellers. She also focuses on purchasing from ethical organizations with an emphasis on sustainability—“I don’t want to sell things made of plastic,” she explains. Other times, the gallery will host a raffle drawing or give a percentage of sales during a special event.

Eeva is also the original architect of the Earth & Ocean Arts Festival in Cannon Beach. She chaired the event in 2019 for the Cannon Beach Gallery Group, with the funds raised designated to environmental organizations on the coast, including NCLC. Although the festival didn’t run in 2020, it was brought back in September of 2021, with Eeva co-chairing. Altogether, they raised $41,778, which was split between the five nonprofits.

Starting with Community Conservation

While Eeva has regularly fundraised for several organizations, NCLC became her “big focus,” particularly when the campaign for the Rainforest Reserve started.

Living in Arch Cape, she says, the 3,500-acre reserve is “literally our backyard.” She felt particularly concerned about water quality and logging, not to mention protecting the natural beauty of the area.

She recalls thinking, “This would be a way of ensuring we don’t have that kind of devastation in the future.” Plus, the property’s proximity to Oswald West State Park and the Cape Falcon Marine Reserve made it seem “like an amazing opportunity.”

With the Rainforest Reserve now conserved, she’s interested to see what comes next for NCLC, but her support for the organization remains strong regardless, because of the organization’s work and team, as well as their positive outlook.

“I found that in any of my encounters with the people that worked or volunteered there, it was always positive,” Eeva says. “It was always looking at what you can do, not belaboring what you can’t do.”

“You have to have these people that have this vision of what we can do to take care of our own communities and environment,” she continues. “And we need to all support that, in whatever way we can. If you’re able to give money, then you give money, and if you’re able to volunteer and do some hands-on work, then do that.”

She’s a firm believer that protecting the natural environment must start at a local level.

“The answers lie within having strong community,” she says. “We can’t wait for the government to come and do something for us.”

After all, she adds, “Who cares more about where you live than the people who live there?”

One of her hopes as a longtime business supporter of NCLC is to provide a model to other businesses in the community who are wanting to give back.

“By example, you can just inspire people to think about what they can do,” she says. “We need to understand that the investment into our own communities is valuable. I mean, what could be more important really?”

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