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The Collective Effort at the Backyard Collective

October 25th, 2014

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It’s not often that we can collectively give back to the one thing in our lives that fuels our passion and provides us an escape from reality, Nature. Let’s face the facts, between all of our daily obligations and our personal pursuits, time is stretched thin and we’re just grateful for any spare moments we can spend making memories in the outdoors. As an individual, you can figure out small and unique ways to give your thanks to mother-nature for all that she has provided you, yet joined by hundreds to provide that same gratitude can be remarkable.

The Backyard Collective is an event, organized by The Conservation Alliance, at which those who have dedicated their lives to outdoor stewardship and those who love the outdoor pursuits can come together for the same reason. We at Osprey value this event because although we help others pursue outdoors by providing them highly innovative gear; this is our chance to return our appreciation to the outdoors for all that it has taught us and provided us.

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Founded in 1989 by outdoor industry businesses including REI & Patagonia, The Conservation Alliance began with the mission to increase outdoor industry support for conservation efforts. In other words, the businesses making gear and apparel for use in the outdoors by outdoor enthusiasts committed to protecting the wild places enjoyed by their customers. The Conservation Alliance today is made up of 185 outdoor industry companies (Osprey Packs is a proud member!) that disburses its collective annual membership dues to grassroots environmental organizations, specifically community-based campaigns focused protecting on threatened wild habitat — preferably where outdoor enthusiasts recreate. Since inception in 1989, Conservation Alliance funding has helped save more than 42 million acres of wildlands; protect 2,825 miles of rivers; stop or remove 26 dams; designate five marine reserves; and purchase nine climbing areas. In 2014 to-date, The Conservation Alliance has awarded a record $1.55 million in grants.

The Conservation Alliance’s Backyard Collective events further connect members of the alliance with the outdoors by bringing together member company employees and local grantees for a day of environmental action. via The Conservation Alliance:

These events allow us to get out of the office and get our hands dirty; doing good work to preserve and protect the open spaces in our own backyards…The BYC program brings together members of the Conservation Alliance community and illustrates firsthand the benefits of conservation efforts and the larger work of The Conservation Alliance.

The Conservation Alliance organized seven Backyard Collectives in 2014, bringing together over 1,000 member company employees, 39 member companies and 36 nonprofits,  to accomplish an amazing amount of work including trail building and maintenance, tree planting, invasive species removal, habitat restoration, and flood debris removal. Each event included a volunteer fair, allowing volunteers to learn more about local nonprofit organizations and projects they can get involved with in their local community.

On September 19th, we were joined by almost 200 people at the 2014 Backyard Collective in Boulder to reconstruct trails in Golden Gate Canyon State Park that were drastically affected by the mud-slides of 2013. The year of 2013 was a rough one for the front-range of Colorado. Record-breaking mudslides and fires took their toll on our State and National parks, depDSC03346ositing debris in small streams and channels that have altered countless trails.

Our team of 7 volunteers drove a total of 16 hours from Southwest Colorado so that we could partake in this event. To hear about an environmental tragedy in the local news and to see the results of it are two entirely different experiences. To listen to the State Park Ranger explain the effects of what these mudslides did to the trails, such as diverging streams and bringing down trees, was a point in which I realized that we as a community, as a collective effort, were responsible for the reviving the trails and areas that we are so fortunate to enjoy.

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That day, 175   volunteers showed up with the same idea and enthusiasm. The collective energy of these outdoor enthusiasts was contagious and inspiring. We all went to work, reviving 4-6 large areas of the State park. We worked side-by-side, complete strangers, yet all with the same commitment.

I am personally honored that my company and our employees, have always valued the outdoor experience above all. The Conservation Alliance provided a unique experience for both our 7 volunteers and the 164 others that joined us that day. Although our individual actions may have been small such as clearing steams and trail work, our collective effort will provide outdoor memories for those to come.

If you would like to be a part of collective effort to protect and conserve our outdoors, be sure to check out the campaigns and grassroots organizations funded by the Conservation Alliance or any of the other non-profit organizations that participated in the Boulder Backyard Collective, including:

Volunteer for Outdoor Colorado

The Access Fund

1% of the Planet

Conservation Colorado

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Fracking Colorado? “Dear Governor Hickenlooper” Premieres at Mountainfilm: Watch a Screening Near You!

June 11th, 2014

Osprey Athlete Alison Gannett is a World Champion Big Mountain FreeSkier, founder both The Save Our Snow Foundation and  KEEN Rippin Chix Steep Skiing Camps and Rippin Chix Mountain Bike Camps. As an accomplished ski mountaineer and Environmental Scientist, she utilizes her first descents and ski expeditions worldwide — India, Pakistan, Bolivia, Argentina, Bhutan, South Africa, Europe and North America — to document glacial recession. Alison has dedicated her life to making the world a better place, and has spent over half her life working on solutions to climate change.

 

Osprey makes me proud, and I’m honored to be an official ambassador. Recently they helped sponsor a new documentary film, Dear Governor Hickenlooper, which premiered at the renowned  Mountainfilm in Telluride film festival. Dear Governor Hickenlooper is a collection of documentary films directed by a variety of Colorado filmmakers and provides a new perspectives on fracking and clean energy through the eyes of scientists, entrepreneurs, artists and families. Not only was I lucky enough to attend the film’s premiere, but I am also honored to be in the film. Fracking has been proposed in the 30,000 acres surrounding my Holy Terror Farm, and 200,000 acres of my water shed have already been leased for drilling.

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Screening TONIGHT June 11 in Boulder &  June 12 in Denver
More info here

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Osprey Takes on Boulder’s Backyard Collective

October 8th, 2013

Gareth–Shannon–MychalLast Thursday evening, a group of Osprey volunteers hopped into our silver Dodge mini van, loaded down with gear and clothing for what was to be a wet, snowy weekend just outside Boulder, CO, and departed for an event called The Backyard Collective.

The BYC is an effort of The Conservation Alliance, which brings together member company employees (in this case, Osprey, La Sportiva, etc.) and local grantees for a day of environmental action. Projects include trail work, invasive species removal and other opportunities for us to get out of the office and get our hands dirty doing good work to preserve and protect the open spaces in our own backyards.

At this event in particular, there were a few new volunteers (myself included), and we were all anxious to arrive, layer up, get our boots muddy and do our part to help the Boulder community that’s very much in need.

During the more than seven-hour drive from our Cortez headquarters, I thought quite a bit about what trail work really means — and what it would mean for me at this event. The first image that came up was of myself swinging a pickaxe on some dry single track with a weathered pair of leather gloves, sun shining on the hillside with an epic view of early high-altitude snowfall, and a deep blue sky filled with puffy clouds that seem close enough to run across. Then, I imagined, I’d break for a morning Clif bar and refill my green tin cup with a few more ounces of hot John Wayne-style coffee. Oh, I imagined, it’d sure be glorious and rewarding. That’s the definition of trail work right?

We awoke Friday to a rain-snow mix and temps in the low 30s. We sorted our way through a light morning commute toward Broomfield, made a quick stop for coffee and finally arrived at the Carolyn Holmberg Preserve at Rock Creek Farm. After an initial meet-and-greet and a disbursement of tools, we received our group assignment and grabbed the wheelbarrows to head down the path.

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The expected turnout of 20 people was a sure underestimation of our group’s commitment to help The Conservation Alliance. I took a quick count of about 50 people dressed in Gore-Tex rain shells, with hats pulled over their ears and smiles on their faces as they huddled around the free hot chocolate.

The trails here at the farm have been closed for some time, and after our work, nearly 125,000 people will regain access to them. We worked seamlessly with great instruction — and nearly four hours later, noticed that we had created one thousand feet of new path for the locals to enjoy. Six hundred more feet was our initial task. We crushed it. My hands were sore, my back a little tight, but I didn’t quite feel exhausted or fulfilled like I had originally anticipated the week before. Hmm…

Mychal thinking hard

For myself, I think there were a few greater questions and lessons that I took away from the morning. I certainly contemplated my self-interests in the volunteer day. Why did I really sign up to help? To feel good? To get out of work for a day? It’s cliché to say ‘to help those in need’, but maybe it was just as simple as that?

The reality of the work and location was nothing like the perfect Colorado day I had imagined when I signed up and stepped away from my desk. It frankly reminded me of the days growing up in Michigan and having to help a relative with chores around their acreage. It was flat, grey and damp. Turns out, it didn’t matter.

Fueling for work

As the weekend continued in the hustle of downtown Denver, I looked around watching other’s interactions in the city, and it seemed as though our efforts began to sink in on another level. We all love nature for different reasons. Whether we’re taking a personal break from our jobs, on a vacation we’ve filled the money jar with for a few months or simply heading out of town with a group of friends to have great stories to share on Monday morning: it’s all the same.

I realized it doesn’t matter where the trail leads or what the view is. It’s a trail, which means it’s an opportunity to be outside: and it’s that simple. It’s a way to improve someone’s day whether it is used on a lunch break walk or the start of a multi-week adventure of not regularly washing your hair. Whatever the function, we took time out of our lives, our weekends, our days, to help something and someone else. Each of us is capable of, if we so choose, taking advantage of these small opportunities to positively impact the places that we love. And more importantly, help places that other people love.

Tim Calkins / Senior Graphic Designer Osprey Packs

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What’s Hot for Cold: Paradox Sports Fashion Show Fundraiser in Boulder

December 22nd, 2011

Earlier this month, I attended another superb event organized by Paradox Sports. Before this, most of the Paradox events I’ve attended have involved a weekend outside, but this time around I headed to Boulder for a fashion show fundraiser at Neptune Mountaineering — one of the most impressive outdoor retail shops I’ve ever seen.

This was the first fashion show that Neptune has hosted as a fundraiser for Paradox Sports. The show featured Neptune employees and Paradox Sports athletes modeling the latest in winter soft goods and shouldering the latest hard goods. The theme, What’s Hot for the Cold, reflects the paradox that exists when disabled athletes are out climbing 5.12 pitches, kayaking Class VI whitewater and skiing the steepest drops. The sight of these athletes climbing high-standard routes in Eldorado or running South Boulder Creek during the runoff, inspires and motivates even the most jaded.

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Mass Ascent: First Annual Assault of Flatiron

June 6th, 2011

Have you ever had a spectacularly bad idea, then been assured by many of it’s apparent terribleness, only to push headlong towards impending catastrophe? Me too.

The following video shares just 4 minutes from the 480+ total minutes of heat exhaustion, blistering and simultaneous climbing that took place last summer. It was a fool’s errand, especially if the fools went on an 8-hour shopping spree at “Dolts R Us” and “Pain-Mart”.

I readily talked 25-people into joining me on a sunrise jaunt up the 1,000-feet of slabby sandstone that comprises the iconic first Flatiron. Later I would find it impossible for these same people to return my calls.

At 8 a.m., as Frosty limbered up the group, a 4-lb steel water bottle ricocheted down the face, dropped 200’ above by buttery, “manslaughter fingers.” It penetrated the group but not any of its members. It was sickening and a few departed immediately with “fear-poisoning”.

The 20 remaining intrepid climbers (read: lemmings) soldiered onward and upward at a snails pace, albeit a snail on smack. We placed competent belayers at seven fixed anchors, tied multiple ropes together, with climbers spaced at 35-foot intervals and allowed the simul-suffering to begin. The summit, though horribly dehydrated, was sweet as it meant we could stop going up. We lowered and rappelled posthaste to avoid an imminent, late afternoon, Rocky Mountain electrocution.

For days after horror stories filtered in, of bloodied knees and knuckles, blistered heels and fingertips, even toenails falling off. They reports often included the caveat, “at least I never have to climb with you again.” We agreed to meet en masse for a post-climb ablution in Boulder Creek, and with libations we recounted and laughed. Not so much chortling, think more the head-shake snicker, which indicates both a non-verbal no, as in, “no, please make it stop,” and a tacit disbelief that anything, like what just took place, was even possible. Whether visionary or incendiary or both, they didn’t tell me it couldn’t be done but just that it shouldn’t.

Is anyone in for the 2nd Annual? Me too.

Written by Timmy O’Neill

Film by James Aikman

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