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Life in the Round: Building a Yurt in Montana

December 1st, 2014

Sean & Mollie Busby are Osprey Packs Ambassadors. Sean is a professional backcountry snowboarder. In 2004, while training for the 2010 Olympics, Sean endured a complicated diagnosis of type 1 diabetes. Considering leaving snowboarding all together, Sean was inspired by reading stories of kids living with T1D that inspired him to keep living his dreams. He founded Riding On Insulin, a nonprofit, to honor all the kids who inspired him to keep living. In February 2014, Sean became the first person with T1D to backcountry snowboard all seven continents at the age of 29 in 2014. Mollie Busby graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with degrees in Journalism and Retail. A series of life-changing events brought Mollie and Sean together in February 2010, and after five months, Mollie moved west. The pair was married in September, 2011 and now resides in a 30-foot yurt with their dogs, Daisy and Glacier, in Whitefish, Montana. Follow their adventures at Two Sticks and A Board and to learn more about Sean’s work educating kids about diabetes and winter sports, visit the Riding On Insulin website.

We had never built anything, let alone a home. But today, I’m proud to say that my husband and I live in an off-the-grid yurt, that we built with our bare hands.

The first part of our story begins in 2012. Sean and I had just begun our journey as Greasecar owners with our 1977 Dodge Travel Queen motorhome that we purchased from our co-owners, Russ and Brittany. We’d gotten a taste of living simply on our drive to Alaska and back (Read more of that here). Not only did we utilize a waste product (waste veggie oil) for our motorhome’s fuel and a natural product (Goal Zero solar power) for our electricity, but we learned a lot about using less. Living in small places, making do with what you have, and using the earth in ways it was intended to be used. (Editor’s Note: I wouldn’t recommend driving to Alaska with 4 people and a dog to figure these things out.)

The second phase of our yurt journey was a trip to Central Asia in December of that year. We visited a small, mountainous country called Kyrgyzstan near the birthplace of yurts (Mongolia) where being a yurt-craftsman is a highly respected, lucrative trade. Families depend on the sale of these structures to support themselves. A yurt — simply defined — is a round structure traditionally used by nomadic tribes in Central Asia. ShelterDesigns.net defines it a bit further: “A yurt consists of a round wall and a roof system that is free standing using a tension ring at the wall and a compression ring where the roof rafters tie together.” Some would call it a glorified tent:

While in Kyrgyzstan, Sean and I fell in love with the symmetry and balance we found in traditional yurts. As opposed to the jagged, 90-degree angles of a traditional house, we felt more at ease in these structures where energy can travel with easy throughout the space. Keep in mind, these photos are of very traditional yurts — not quite the same structure we’re putting on our land (we’ll get to that in a minute). For now, I love this photo of Sean — it captures true happiness:

If this family could sell three yurts a year (which they do — sometimes more), they will have enough income to not only survive, but fare extremely well in comparison to families of other trades in the village.

 

Flash forward to Whitefish, spring 2014: Sean had gone back and forth to determine what sort of “tiny structure” we were going to build on our land — tiny house, yurts, fire towers, tee-pees, etc. After months of research, he landed back on a yurt, officially. As if the universe had been waiting for us to decide, Sean came across a pre-assembled yurt for sale on YurtForum.com 20 minutes from our home manufactured by Montana’s Shelter Designs. A Montana-made yurt available LOCALLY… and technically, we would be buying second-hand. It was perfect.

Here is the yurt before we disassembled it in Kalispell, Montana:

Here is a photo of the yurt, reassembled on our property in Whitefish, Montana:

Some hard facts: Our yurt is roughly 700 square feet of living space, plus a loft (300 additional square feet). It’s 1 bedroom (plus sleeping space in the loft) and 1 bathroom, fully wired and plumbed, although we opt for solar power, a composting toilet, and rainwater collection. We have come so far, and yet have so far to go! Stay tuned for more posts from yurt life!

To see photo and read stories of the whole process, from disassembly to building a deck to building the yurt itself and more, click here. You can also follow our travels on Instagram: Mollie @TwoSticksAndABoard and Sean @SeanBusby

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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

Read more…

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Walking the Talk: Osprey’s Green Team Leader Sam Mix

April 11th, 2011

Sam's Weminuche flower garden

Osprey’s Outdoor Marketing Manager Sam Mix should get an award for his green efforts. From my perspective, he seems to have single-handedly created the Osprey Green Team — a group of volunteer employees that look to always improve the companies’ sustainability efforts.

Read more…

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The Ongoing Debate: Is Fracking Safe?

December 15th, 2010

If you’ve been paying attention to the news at all lately, you’ve probably heard a fair bit about fracking. So what the frack is fracking? Hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” is a means of natural gas extraction employed in deep natural gas well drilling. Once a well is drilled, millions of gallons of water, sand and proprietary chemicals are injected, under high pressure, into a well. The pressure fractures the shale and props open fissures that enable natural gas to flow more freely out of the well.

The ongoing debate over hydraulic fracturing for natural gas boils down to: energy companies want to drill, while people concerned about drinking water supplies and the effects of drilling chemicals on human health do not.

Yesterday, New York Gov. David Paterson signed an executive order to halt the controversial natural gas drilling process until July 1, 2011. But it’s only sort of good news. While a moratorium is better than nothing at all, it’s certainly no guarantee of a well-protected environment.

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And it’s not just New York that has to worry about it. Fracking is happening right here in our own backyard. The potential drilling threatens the entire region and many others across the country, as exposed by the documentary Gasland…

Watch the trailer:

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“The largest domestic natural gas drilling boom in history has swept across the United States. The Halliburton-developed drilling technology of “fracking” or hydraulic fracturing has unlocked a “Saudia Arabia of natural gas” just beneath us. But is fracking safe? What do you think?

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