A basic experience of life is that it's easier to figure out what you believe than it is to figure out how to behave as a response. That is, it's easier to define your values than it is to decide what actions you need to take in order to live them out.
Talk is cheap, and all that, but it's also true that even the most committed among us can't do everything. In fact, we can't do most things. Time and resources are limited, and all of us hold important values that we won't be able to take meaningful action on. That's something most people sort out individually as teenagers when pesky guidance counselors badger us to pick something to do after high school, and lament in our old age as we look back on the paths we might have taken, but didn't.
But building a business that's still in its formative stages, it's a reality that we're constantly butting up against. We feel motivated to do way more than we realistically can, and this is a constant process of prioritization and sticking with a focus even when there are plenty of worthy, or even pressing, distractions. The vast majority of our energy goes into the one thing that's really at the heart of this project: building connections between people in the outdoor community through story. We're doing that because of our values around inclusivity, equality, local economies and environmental ethics (which are stated explicitly, if not comprehensively, here), but every day presents new options of other things we could, and maybe should, be doing.
Individual and organizational actions can accumulate.
Even if you aren't also creating a DIY, niche market side hustle, I'm guessing you can relate to the sentiment, which is why I've come to think that maybe the most important thing we can do in the outdoor community is to play matchmaker between cool people doing cool things. Because, to crib a quote from Angel, we believe that individual and organizational actions can accumulate. None of us may be able to do everything, but if we use what we're good at to support other organizations and people who are doing the stuff that we value, then they might be able to do those things more effectively. And if we can be a venue through which good people and good organizations get to know each other, it seems like everyone wins.
Oregon Wild: Doing stuff we wish we could.
Since we opened shop in 2017, our instincts have been towards trying to partner and support other like-minded, local organizations with similar values, and while we've encountered those everywhere we've been, for some reason there seem to be a disproportionate number in Oregon. My theory is that a bunch of weirdo dirtbags move there without jobs because it's amazing, and have to figure out something to do with their lives so they start businesses and nonprofits. Whatever the reason though, we're excited to be heading down again for events in Portland and Bend in a few weeks, on July 10th and 12th, respectively. (Shameless plug: Buy tix here!)
At our Portland event in particular, we're excited to try something for the first time by teaming up in an explicit partnership with Oregon Wild, who are doing exactly the kind of work that we think is valuable and want to support. We've been planning the event with our friend Jamie Dawson from the organization, and will be accepting donations for them both at the event and during the ticket sales process on the website. While raising a bit of money might be the most concretely helpful thing we'll do for them, the fun part is that we'll be encouraging storytellers to focus on experiences that happened on Oregon public lands, as a way to distill the personal, emotional importance of the place. We think it'll be a great chance to experience some Oregon love, and to share that love with a wide audience through the podcast later. And, we hope, it'll create content that Oregon Wild can use to help other people understand the importance of the land that they're advocating to protect.
(SIde note, if you're a reader planning to come to the Bend event, your Oregon stories are more than welcome as well to share the heart of what makes your state such a great place to live!)
If you aren't acquainted with Oregon Wild, they're a nonprofit based in Portland focused on "Protecting Oregon's wildlands, wildlife, and waters for future generations".
Specifically, they're the people going to bat politically to make sure that protected lands stay protected, and that lands that should be preserved, are. Among a variety of other things, Oregon Wild are helping train and organize grassroots advocates through their Wild Ones program, organizing groups in Portland, Bend and Eugene that teach democracy skills training, and going to bat legally on behalf of supporters on the wonky issues that come up when government regulations are changed or challenged. Under a Federal government that seems actively hostile towards wilderness protection, Oregon is home to one of the most threatened regions in the country, in the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, which is under the same government "monument review" process that recently opened Bears Ears and Grand Staircase in Utah to mining interests. There are strong pushes to open lowland old growth forest to logging in the monument and along Federal Wilderness areas on the Rogue River, and large areas that are currently protected are under serious threat of losing that status.
Our events are always in good fun and everything, but we're also happy to team up with Oregon Wild on this one to say screw that.
And if you're interested in learning more or supporting them, come hang out with us in Portland at the Skyline Tavern on July 10th, or check out their website! Or, subscribe to our podcast and stay tuned because the stories will be coming down the pipe!
If you like what we're up to and want to be a part of making sure it continues to happen, think about supporting us on Patreon.
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.