By Nicole Morales
The Portland Upside
The Portland Upside
After years of moving, Chris Bucci finds his home and heart in Oregon and creates the green Heart In Oregon design that’s now seen everywhere.
What’s black and white and seen all over? No, it’s not the latest issue of The Portland Upside. Here’s a hint: there’s a green heart in the middle. You’re right! It’s The Heart In Oregon sticker-turned-emblem that has popped up everywhere on auto bumpers, community news boards and skin. Yes, skin. Seeing the emblem as a freshly inked tattoo one wonders what it means for the bearer: homegrown pride, Oregon’s natural beauty, love for community and place, or perhaps a dreamer’s dream?
How did a simple image come to carry such emotion for so many people? Heart In Oregon designer and dreamer Chris Bucci shared with me how a dream and an idea are now his reality.
Chris moved around a lot during childhood. As he puts it, he was a corporate brat. With every new job his father took, there was a mandatory family move. All over the country. Seventeen times. The one tangible thing that followed Chris was his desk, covered with stickers.
Years later as a business-savvy computer tech, Chris sought job prospects in Seattle. It was the summer of ’92. Chris packed up his car, wished his parents well, and pioneered his way from Chicago to the Northwest. The desk stayed behind.
“When I first crossed the Oregon-Idaho boarder I felt something. It went away when I crossed into Washington. I felt a feeling of home.”
This was new to Chris.
“I’d never had a home before because I always moved.”
Chris made his way back to Portland a few years later, but things on the employment front had turned sour and he got laid off. With few job prospects, Chris knew the inevitable was creeping up on him.
“I was at a low point and a revelation point when the idea for a sticker came to mind.”
Chris recalled the day he sat outside of a Portland café pondering his predicament.
“But my heart is here, my heart is in Oregon.”
That was in 2003.
Many months later Chris was still without a job. He spent much of his time thinking of where he would go. Having had no real sense of home anywhere else made it all the more difficult. That’s when his idea materialized and his dream stuck. Chris put all his energy into the Heart In Oregon sticker.
Today his dream is well over 250,000 stickers strong through retail purchases, freebies, and gifts in kind. Last year Chris mailed 300 Heart In Oregon stickers to the Oregon National Guard to be given to its troops serving all over the world.
“It’s the least I can do.”
Chris explained that the Heart In Oregon image is formally called the Dreamer’s Emblem. And it means, “I’m living a dream, I’m seeking a dream, or I’m supporting someone in their dream.”
That’s not to say that Chris’ dream was an instant success. The original sticker featured a red heart that people just didn’t respond to. It was also rectangular in shape.
Chris didn’t give up on his idea. Rather he welcomed feedback on it.
“Friends suggested I make the heart green because it’s Oregon and that I cut it out in the shape of the state.”
Out of necessity, Chris heeded their advice.
“I created the sticker to help make ends meet.”
Forging ahead with the Heart In Oregon emblem was not an easy feat. Other people were starting to emulate Chris’ design.
“I was afraid to move forward.”
He knew that if he wasn’t going to continue with the Dreamer’s Emblem others undoubtedly would.
“I have to do this and why not bring more business to my home, because my mission is to help make the best Oregon I can.”
2009 was a great year for Chris. Other local businesses and communities have also benefited from Heart In Oregon success. And this success stems from the dream Chris shared with others. He made it a point to share his idea and he persisted.
“An idea is just an idea.” And it will stay an idea until one “gets it outside of their head.” Simply put, “I’m a guy who supports his family off of a sticker.”
Chris Bucci’s Heart In Oregon stickers have evolved into T-shirts, pins, hoodies, and the window cling for people with “sticker commitment issues.” Visit http://heartsticker.com to check out the online store and to see Chris’ emblem designs for other states.
Nicole strives to connect people via multicultural education and writing. She teaches ESL at a private university outside of Portland and welcomes your inquiries at firstname.lastname@example.org