At least a hundred people ascended on Hanging Rock Camp this weekend with the mission to party, raise money for charity and “chive on.”
This is the second year that a group of people who follow the websites and social media sites of The Chive and OK Chive have gathered together along the Illinois River. Hailing from Tahlequah, Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Dallas, and various other places, this community of “Chivers” bonds immediately, even if having never met before, because they all choose to, as the saying goes, “Keep calm and Chive on.”
“Chive is a group of people who love people and love to help people,” said Donivan Riddle, administrator for the Tahlequah Chive social media sites. “We’re a group who won’t ever judge you; who will hold an event, make you pay to come to it, and take that money and give it to charities.”
What started as a photo-heavy entertainment website in 2008, TheChive.com has developed into being a member of Resignation Media’s “global lifestyle brand in entertainment, apparel, music, charity and beer, all while staying true to the warm-spirited, charitable nature of its audience,” according to its website. Each day, an average of 3 million people visit the site, which gets 170 million monthly page views.
Site visitors are greeted with galleries of photos featuring humor, “beautiful women, groundbreaking photography, and art from all over the world.” In the beginning, brothers John and Leo Resig would scour the web looking for trending and unique photos and videos to feature on their site, hoping to gain site hits and, therefore, money from advertisers. Now the site, and its smaller official and unofficial chapter sites, encourage Chivers to submit multimedia.
“We are more than just crazy pictures,” said Riddle. “You don’t apply or sign up to be a Chiver. You just are, if you help, volunteer or love to have fun – whether your idea of fun is to crochet, hike, help, have a few beers by a fire, wear a creepy horse head, dress like Harry Potter or however you see as fun. Just be you.”
Riddle’s talk of hosting events for charity and volunteering is the spirit of Chive that grew unintentionally from the Resig brothers. In 2011, the story of a possible shutdown of a rural ambulance service prompted the sharing of the story and a call to action to the Chive community. Since then, the official nonprofit has raised over $3.3 million in grants and $1.8 million in “flash charity funding,” according to chivecharities.org.
This weekend’s OK Chive float trip will raise money for the local charity Rise Up Inc., to help African communities improve their schools.
“The biggest part with us is the charity,” Austin Reed said about he and his wife’s involvement with The Chive. “We like paying back to the community and having fun.”
Austin and Raquel Reed, both of Tahlequah, have been checking out The Chive website for about three years. Raquel looked into local chapters to help with charities. Recently, they attended a Chive event in Tulsa where stuffed animals were donated for first responders to give to children.
“People look at it [the website] and see sexual pictures and posts about alcohol, but it’s way more than that,” said Austin Reed. “Friendship and charity is what it boils down to.”
Raquel Reed agreed.
“I’ve met people through the Northeast Oklahoma Chive chapter that are not into drinking and such – they live a Christian lifestyle – but they like The Chive and the people they meet and the charities, so they still participate.”
Ashley Nakedhead, another admin for the Tahlequah Chive social media sites, is one of those people.
“Volunteering and helping people is mostly what I enjoy doing,” said Nakedhead. “I don’t care about the drinking and other stuff.”
She talked about how a lot of places she wants to volunteer with tend to look down on her because of her tattoos, but other Chivers tend not to judge.
That could be why people tend to post photos of themselves, or selfies, to Chive sites. Nakedhead said that while she doesn’t tend to post so-called “sexy photos,” she doesn’t have a problem seeing them.
“I have a friend who used to be really big, but she’s lost a lot of weight and now posts pictures of herself to Chive all the time,” said Nakedhead. “She said it gives her confidence.”
Owner of Boulevard LLC in downtown Tahlequah, Alyssia Hylton, said she doesn’t find issue with the scantily-clad photos, either.
“The photos are submitted by the women themselves. To each their own,” said Hylton. “I love the website. It’s fun and a nice break in the day.”
Hylton is a proud Chivette, as the female Chivers are known. Often, a “KCCO” – or “Keep calm and Chive on” – flag will fly in front of her store, and she even has a discount available for fellow Chivers. She doesn’t ask people if they are Chivers, but notes that “they’re not super hard to spot; they’re pretty proud members.”
Others mentioned what Riddle calls the “automatic friendship” between the “misfit band” of Chivers.
“You’ll see people out with a Chive T-shirt or bracelet on or a sticker on their car and you can relate to them,” said Austin Reed. “There’s a lot of support being in a group like this. It’s neat to see people who don’t know each other but are willing to help each other.”
The Reeds and both Chive Tahlequah admins have stories of seeing people who have posted to Facebook needing a ride or some help moving who have received help from Chivers they didn’t know. They all believe in random acts of kindness and paying it forward. Sometimes, they’ll pay for the person behind them in a drive-thru line or leave a $5 bill at a Redbox machine so the next person can buy snacks.
Most of the big charity events have taken place in the Tulsa area or in western Oklahoma, but locals hope to find more like-minded Chivers and organize events in Tahlequah.