I got a surprise call the other day from the EPA/The White House asking me to speak at the Green Sports Alliance gala in NYC. My dream topic? Women, Sports and the Environment. Seeing as this opportunity was basically just that, I could only think that they must have created this symposium just for me! Osprey stepped up and helped me attend the prestigious event, where I was able to represent Osprey, myself, and also my Save Our Snow Foundation.
Transported from rural Colorado and our Holy Terror Farm, I suddenly felt underdressed mingling with NBA, NHL and NFL stars and team owners. I had thought that my all-black ensemble would fit in for “NY Casual” but apparently New York City casual involves five-inch heels, black sequined dresses, tuxedos and diamonds. At least I had my bright pink KEEN sneakers and Osprey pack, so that I looked a bit intentionally like a pro athlete?
I made some small talk – “and what do you do?” and got some not-so-typical answers – “I run Nike,” “I own the Philadelphia Eagles” or “I play for the Edmunton Oilers” were some typical answers. I quickly realized how high-powered the corporate executives were at this event, and became intensely excited about speaking to 500 of these impressive women the next day.
Finally I ran into a familiar face – Kimmy Fasani – Pro Snowboarder and rider for Protect our Winters (POW), and Klean Kanteen’s marketing director and POW’s executive director turn out to be my dinner seat mates.
The next day brought one of the biggest keynotes of my life – such big names, such huge corporate successes, and WOW, so many green success stories that one would think sustainability was cool and mainstream. I was super impressed by the work of the National Hockey League, not so impressed by the National Football League and blown away by Philly Eagles owner Christina Weiss Lurie who received the Environmental Leadership award for their zero-wast, 100 percent renewable-powered football stadium/team. I was honored to kick off the talk for “Women, Sports and The Environment” with my steep skiing crazy videos transitioning into how to green your business while saving money. Special thanks to Osprey for helping me get to this special speaking event! The crowd was equally inspirational and there to learn from other success stories. Maybe next year we go to The White House and present the President with our latest greatest recycled material pack? Who says you can’t have your cake and eat it too? Vote with your dollars and support companies that make products with iron-clad guarantees! The greenest pack is one that you don’t have to buy again!
In addition to lots of fun activities at the event, I was asked to be a member of a pro-athlete panel for the closing event Adventure Saves the World.
At first I was put off by the title, as I am always mortified by the carbon footprint of even my human-powered expeditions. Then I received an outline, from moderator Mike Roberts, executive editor of the Outside — and to my surprise and delight, this guy wanted to dig deep! He had quotes from Will Gadd, spouting about the BS of many expeditions with a cause, to the polar opposite — powerful athletes really making a difference, like Jake Norton, fighting for clean drinking water. Were we going to have to put on boxing gloves and fight it out? Were many people just using expeditions to raise money for their hedonistic activities under the fake umbrella of a cause?
Turns out, all the world champion athletes at this symposium were all in favor of philanthropy, but all had some key points that charity givers should note…
Polar Explorer Eric Larsen talked up the benefits of bringing nature’s gifts into the classroom with social media, and noted that donated money should go to the cause — not to fund an expedition’s travel expenses.
Willie Kern responded eloquently regarding how effective we were in reaching millions, saying that if even one person was inspired or changed, that made it all worthwhile. Olympic snowboarder Chris Klug mentioned that he is flooded with emails from organ donation recipients like himself, inspired to do even more with their new lives.
How do we recognize if an expedition is doing the right thing? Of course you can check if corporate sponsors are funding expenses and donation money is going directly to causes, and check to see the validity and rating of a nonprofit, but there really is more. At the end of the forum, I had an epiphany regarding the issue… maybe what it boils down to is authenticity: in the days of Google, one can really check to see if an cause-driven expedition is really true to that person’s heart and soul. Based upon the passion I saw and heard at this symposium, I was inspired to keep saving the world, one snowflake at a time!
Alison Gannett is a World Champion Extreme Freeskier, founder of The Save Our Snow Foundation and an award-winning global cooling consultant who has spent her life dedicated to solutions for climate change.
While I have worked half my life on cost-saving measures to reduce our carbon footprints and save energy, I created the Save Our Snow Foundation in 2006 (http://www.saveoursnowfoundation.org) to take the message to the US and worldwide. I was actually skiing in Crested Butte, when the beautiful sunny day and glistening peaks inspired an epiphanous moment.
In a strange way, my personal attempts to make a difference in my own life, have turned into a template for what is cost-effective, easy to implement, and also actually effective at reducing energy use. Some things have worked, such as growing my own food at 9,000 feet, and other have failed such as my solar-electric PHEV SUV, but all have taught me valuable lessons.
My journey has moved away from science lately, into non-controversial items such as job security, deficit reduction, and energy independence. While I have seen glaciers disappear around the world and snow storms becoming more erratic, I don’t really care about convincing folks about the realities of climate change anymore. Why bother? We have such a short time to make such radical changes, so my latest approach is to work with severe skeptics on action items that save money, so we can actually move forward.
My next big push will be the US Senate in April. I’ll be pitching the concept that a 30% reduction can save us energy and save us money. I’ll not be toting my KODE around, or my skis this time, but trying to look more fashionable. I’ll be biking to DC for Earthday, via a trail building day in Pittsburgh. Any Osprey fans out there who want to lend a hand to help save our snow for our children?
Osprey Ambassador Alison Gannett here, writing from Crested Butte, Colorado. Lots of time I’m training for competitions, or fighting to save our snow, but today was one of those days were I just SKIED. Not only was there stellar powder, but I was hanging with my good friends.
Gareth and Sam from Osprey had just sent me a new KODE 30 to test, so I guess I was really working hard today – right? I must say, I loved the gear compartments, the side zipper access, and its sexy look. Another test item I brought along was a jelly jar filled with coffee, wrapped in a hot pink Osprey beer Coozie. I think everyone should have one.
Great powder days like this not only remind me of why I fight to SAVE OUR SNOW (http://www.saveoursnowfoundation.org) but also it really recharges my batteries, gives my life a blissful balance, and reminds me of how damn lucky I am, especially in the wake of Haiti.
Stay posted for my upcoming competition – The 7 extreme hours of Banana, and I’ll try to dig up some good photos of my 42k skate race in a thong bikini.