One of the next steps we're taking in this grand adventure is focused on raising support to keep Boldly Went moving forward. But don't be scared - we're not going to be obnoxious about it. A little more specifically, we're asking community members to consider joining a legion of micro-sponsors we're building on Patreon at www.patreon.com/boldlywent. I'll tell you more below, but if you want a tl:dr version, click on the link to see what all of this is about!
I'm writing this in a nice little coffee shop in weird and awesome Salt Lake City, where we're crashing for the day with our friend Sara and her dog Kolob. When this post goes live, we'll be somewhere on the way from Laramie, Wyoming to Boulder, Colorado en route to Moab, Las Vegas and Mexico. All of that, in a variety of ways, as part of the dirtbag dream that is Boldly Went.
A year ago this project was quite literally a dream. We were preparing to spend a month busing around the mountains, pueblos, jungles and beaches of central Mexico on a sort of life-transition walkabout, soon after Angel left her job as a Nurse Practitioner to dive full time into a bunch of things that we thought would make a contribution to the world, but were, as yet, just a bunch of "what if we actually did that, like for real?" conjectures. What if we started organizing events to bring outdoors people of all types to connect, and share their best stories? What if we made a podcast out of it? And what if we figured out a way that they could get out into the wilderness together? It sounded awesome, but this time last year, it was all in our heads.
A year on, Boldly Went is 17 events and counting in 9 different cities, 42 podcast episodes and material lined up for a dozen more, a summer spent taking international travelers into the Cascades, more partnerships than we can count and a couple of paid sponsors, hundreds of stories from an equal number of incredible people, a nascent network of local adventurers in 5 countries, and an upcoming book whose goal is to kick off a series of publications focused on sharing the distilled wisdom of our community, and helping people make adventure a lifestyle.
Stated another way, stuff is kind of bonkers, but whoa, exciting.
Last night we stole Kolob the dog's bed at Sara's place in SLC, so this morning she jumped up (Kolob, not Sara) and licked Angel's face to encourage us to move along. To show her that this was unacceptable behavior, even though I was awake, I stayed in bed and ruminated for a half hour or so. As they do in such situations, my thoughts turned to dreams of where Boldly Went has been, and the direction that it is going.
The magic this year has undoubtedly been in the connections that people are making at events, the inspiration people are finding, and the stories that are being told publicly that wouldn't be otherwise. It's Gavin Woody processing lessons learned in an ultramarathon and Nancy Board eliciting tears and hugs while talking about the experience of being married to someone on a 5 year expedition around the world, Amanda Timeoni turning naked hiking into comedy gold and Stef Airey writing Shakespeare about experiences in the Canadian Rockies. There's the germ of something here.
But what's most exciting from our perspective is how much is still untapped. We've been to nine cities. I don't know how many there are in the world, but I hear it's more than that. In every place we've traveled we've found adventurers who aren't just interesting - they're absolutely remarkable. What could happen if we were casting a wider net?
And across the year, our podcast has progressed dramatically in quality, and listens are steadily growing. But we're still recording on donated gear and a pair of iPhone headphones that we turned into a lapel mic with a pair of scissors. What could it be if we weren't doing it on a $0 budget? If we had decent gear and even someone to help edit, promote and produce it?
And we've barely even touched on a major part of the original motivation for creating this community. The initial problem we set out to solve with Boldly Went centers on humanitarianism, exploration, and connections. The world is full of spectacular places in areas that need resources, and those spectacular places are full of locals whose knowledge is the only way outsiders can reasonably gain access. Our hunch is that people like us would pay good money to those locals for that knowledge if they had the opportunity, so from the beginning, we've included developing a network of local "Navigators" as part of our long term plan.
One of the reasons we're heading to Mexico again next week is that we know we haven't yet nailed that part of our vision, and we want to spend time working on it in the part of the world where it was born. But even this plan has started to germinate. Our friend Ellen, who we met at an event in Tacoma, just got in contact with our friend Javier, who is a local Navigator in Guatemala, for help planning a trip. It's a small thing, but the first of exactly the types of connections we want to facilitate. The community of people like Ellen, who we're meeting through our events and podcast, are the adventurers whose world we're trying to help open up. People like Javier in Guatemala are the early adopting local experts whose knowledge can make their world a lot bigger. Again, this is the seed of something. What could this thing turn into if we had real time and money to work some connections and develop it?
In truth most everything that's happened this year is because Angel has been working full time on this. For me, Tim, it's still a side hustle and I've barely even touched my own long-term goals - using this platform and our Boldly Went connections to start writing about travel and adventure on a more consistent basis and in a more helpful way. I squeeze out a blog post a week if we're lucky, but what we really want to come of this is much more substantial. Here, at the end of year one, it's easy to dream about what could be, because I've managed to get together the first draft of a book called The Dirtbag's Guide to Life that we'll release in the next few months, and which we envision as the launch of a series of written pieces focused on defining outdoor values and providing practical advice for making exploration a lifestyle. This is going to happen. It's going to be a ton of fun. But what could it be with money for editing, presentation and marketing?
I wouldn't be inaccurate to say that we've been making this project up as we go, but every step of the way we've been guided by our instincts about what would be valuable to this outdoor community that we love. And our instinct at the end of our first year is that there are a lot of people who, like us, are excited about the potential for this project and want to support it. So in our recent "business meetings" (which are actually long car rides between events when we try to figure out what we're doing), our discussions have centered on next steps, to build on that support and grow in a way that fits our dirtbag ethos.
And as much as anything we've come up with, setting up an account on Patreon really seems to fit. We're working on a lot of projects, but an overarching summary of what we're doing is building the community that makes adventure happen. If you aren't familiar with Patreon, it's an online platform for just that type of community building, where members can connect, and can make ongoing pledges of small amounts of money to keep creators creating. It just makes a ton of sense.
We want everything we do, especially when it involves people giving money, to be genuinely valuable. So a the thing we like about Patreon, which fits what we're doing really well, is that we can interact with you and give you stuff we create - both new products and discounts on stuff we're already making. We already have a bunch of "rewards" up on the site that people can access if they pledge - discounts on tickets and hats, but also new AdventShorts podcasts, the first edition of a resource we're calling THE BEST THINGS!! and a free preview of the book we'll be releasing in coming months. We're stoked about all of that stuff, and we're going to keep those types of things coming.
We also love that supporters can interact with each other. We really think direct connections between the adventurers we're meeting at events could create some really cool partnerships. Our early supporters include a scuba instructor, a bunch of trail runners, an Everest climber, thru-hikers, world travelers, college professors, my mom... We know the people we're meeting through this project are incredible, and we want you to be able to enrich each other's lives, not just ours, and the site provides another platform for that.
Another big goal we have is to keep this thing accessible. We're dirtbags too. We get it. Our whole goal is for everyone to be able to participate that wants to. We like the Patagonia and Prius crowd, but we also like the "Hell yeah, I found some Patagonia at Goodwill!" and "I hitchhiked in a Prius once" crowd. We want all of you to be able to support if you find what we're doing valuable and want to see it grow. So it doesn't take much to "buy in" as a Patreon supporter - this is really a microfinance model with $1 as the minimum pledge.
And we also like it because it takes the pressure off of us to sell out. We have sponsors that we genuinely love (Territory Run Co, Himalayan Adventure Labs, Say Yes! to Life Swims), and we want to keep working with businesses like them. They fit our philosophy around business partnerships, which is that we want to only work with organizations that will be genuinely valuable for our community to connect with. But in order to protect the integrity of that philosophy, our goal is always to work with other businesses because we want to. Not because we have to in order to keep this going. In that vein, we love Patreon because we'd much rather feel pressure to make what we do valuable to a bunch of small donors than to one large sponsor.
If you want to jump on board with us, follow this link to www.patreon.com/boldlywent, or just click on the button at the bottom of this post, and it'll walk you through the process of becoming a regular sponsor. Rewards are listed on the site, and you can access good stuff right away if you decide to support.
Meanwhile, we're going to keep doing what we're doing - driving around, sleeping in our car, collecting stories, and building podcasts and content that we think will both inspire new adventures and make them more accessible. We're excited to be here - having built a solid base, and taking on the challenge of helping this thing progress to the next level. We're stoked that you're along for the ride, in whatever form that takes, and we're looking forward to the new ways that this dirtbag dream's going to become a reality!
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Tim and Angel
The goat in the picture lives in Silverton, CO, and tried to kill us. We survived to bring you this dirtbag wisdom for the ages.