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Life & Bikes in Kabul

May 17th, 2013

Six years ago, Shannon Galpin walked away from her career as an athletic trainer and used her own limited funds to launch Mountain2Mountain and “be the change” she wished to see in the world. Today, Shannon and the M2M team, are just returning from their latest trip to Afghanistan where they launched the Streets of Afghanistan project and rode bicycles through Kabul to raise awareness of cultural barriers and empower women and girls in conflict regions.

As big supporters of Shannon and the M2M work she does, we’re happy to stay in touch with her and get period updates throughout her travels. That said, we’re also excited to share what she has to show and tell from those very journeys, the latest of which center around the Streets of Afghanistan project. Here’s the latest from Shannon both in words and in pictures. Enjoy!

“Yesterday we had the finale show of the Streets of Afghanistan exhibition at the Sound Central music festival — its up for four days throughout the incredible  four-day alternative music festival.  Yesterday was the women’s only day to kick off the festival, where young Afghan school girls attended the festival for slam poetry, a fashion show, Afghan rap duo, Afghan singer songwriter, Ariana Delwari, and White City — fronted by my long time friend, advisor, and founder of Sound Central, Travis Beard.  We brought three members of the cycling team to watch the concert and to help with the M2M Bike School.

All in all a full day. Streets exhibition set up and finale show at Sound Central Festival, M2M bike school and rock concert, finished with filming at Darul Aman Palace. Whitney, the co-director of Afghan cycles is leaving today, and then our crew is just a duo until we leave.  Whitney has been amazing, and creates a sense of community, friendship, and openness wherever we go, she interacts with the Afghans we meet with grace, humor, and authenticity that I have rarely seen.  Her infectious laugh combined with everyone’s exhaustion at the end of the long days makes for a slap-happy crew.

Exhaustion is starting to take hold, but perhaps that will just make the plane ride home go quicker as we sleep our way home.”

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Shannon Galpin Nominated for Nat Geo Adventure’s Adventurer of the Year

November 2nd, 2012

It’s that time of year again: National Geographic Adventure has nominated ten individuals to stand in the running for 2013 People’s Choice Adventurer of the Year. This year in particular, we’re incredibly proud to announce that the outstanding Shannon Galpin of Mountain2Mountain is one of the Adventurer of the Year nominees — and you can vote for her now!

M2M, which Shannon founded in 2006, “believes in the power of voice as a catalyst for social action,” and has touched the lives of many since its inception. In its latest project, Streets of Afghanistan, M2M utilizes the power of photography as the voice of change.

In 2009, Shannon became the first woman to bike in Afghanistan, challenging societal norms and gender perceptions in that part of the world. In general, Shannon’s work has seriously highlighted the significance of perpetuating equality for women and girls in conflict regions, and will continue to impact generations to come.

For good reason, Shannon is nominated as Humanitarian of the year. Via Nat Geo Adventure:

The 38-year-old has braved some of the most violent periods in Afghanistan—a country considered by many humanitarian agencies to be the worst place in the world to be a woman—to work on women’s education and health. She fostered midwife training to combat infant and maternal mortality in the Panjshir Province. In Kabul and Kandahar, she helped develop reading programs for the daughters of women in prisons, some of whom were jailed for adultery after they were raped or for escaping arranged marriages.

She has used her bicycle as an icebreaker with village elders in remote mountain villages, and in a particularly bold fundraising act, she’s mountain biked 140 miles across the Panjshir Valley. In Afghanistan, women cannot ride bikes because of laws and social customs, a fact that Galpin believes has hindered women’s education by preventing them from being able to independently travel to school. As a foreign woman, Galpin was able to cross this boundary and turn it into a conversation starter.

Women’s rights are personal for Galpin. At 19, she survived being raped and knifed while coming home from work in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

“I couldn’t think of anything worse beyond what had happened than being labeled a victim,” says Galpin. “I was petrified that I would be viewed that way and would have to wear that label for the rest of my life.”

Want to vote for Shannon Galpin? Go here to do so through mid-January.

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Shannon Galpin Nominated for Nat Geo Adventure’s Adventurer of the Year

November 1st, 2012

It’s that time of year again: National Geographic Adventure has nominated ten individuals to stand in the running for 2013 People’s Choice Adventurer of the Year. This year in particular, we’re incredibly proud to announce that the outstanding Shannon Galpin of Mountain2Mountain is one of the Adventurer of the Year nominees — and you can vote for her starting today, November 1st!

M2M, which Shannon founded in 2006, “believes in the power of voice as a catalyst for social action,” and has touched the lives of many since its inception. In its latest project, Streets of Afghanistan, M2M utilizes the power of photography as the voice of change.

In 2009, Shannon became the first woman to bike in Afghanistan, challenging societal norms and gender perceptions in that part of the world. In general, Shannon’s work has seriously highlighted the significance of perpetuating equality for women and girls in conflict regions, and will continue to impact generations to come.

For good reason, Shannon is nominated as Humanitarian of the year. Via Nat Geo Adventure:

The 38-year-old has braved some of the most violent periods in Afghanistan—a country considered by many humanitarian agencies to be the worst place in the world to be a woman—to work on women’s education and health. She fostered midwife training to combat infant and maternal mortality in the Panjshir Province. In Kabul and Kandahar, she helped develop reading programs for the daughters of women in prisons, some of whom were jailed for adultery after they were raped or for escaping arranged marriages.

She has used her bicycle as an icebreaker with village elders in remote mountain villages, and in a particularly bold fundraising act, she’s mountain biked 140 miles across the Panjshir Valley. In Afghanistan, women cannot ride bikes because of laws and social customs, a fact that Galpin believes has hindered women’s education by preventing them from being able to independently travel to school. As a foreign woman, Galpin was able to cross this boundary and turn it into a conversation starter.

Women’s rights are personal for Galpin. At 19, she survived being raped and knifed while coming home from work in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

“I couldn’t think of anything worse beyond what had happened than being labeled a victim,” says Galpin. “I was petrified that I would be viewed that way and would have to wear that label for the rest of my life.”

Want to vote for Shannon Galpin? Go here to do so through mid-January.

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Mountain2Mountain Takes ‘Streets of Afghanistan’ Back to Afghanistan

October 23rd, 2012

Annual Panjshir Tour-Durango group ride at Twin Buttes to celebrate Mountain 2 Mountain's Shannon Galpin becoming the first woman to mountain bike in Afghanistan in October of 2009. It brought together a group of new friends the same weekend that 'Streets of Afghanistan' Cultural Exhibition leaves for Kabul. Read about that trip here. http://bit.ly/TCAieK

We’re always proud to support the work of Mountain2Mountain and Shannon Galpin, who founded the non-profit in 2006. M2M “believes in the power of voice as a catalyst for social action,” and has touched the lives of many men, women and children since its inception. In its latest project, Streets of Afghanistan, M2M utilizes the power of photography as the voice of change.

Streets of Afghanistan is, as stated on its blog, is “a touring cultural exhibit of life-size photographs that depict life in Afghanistan, as Afghans see it.” For it, a combination of Western and Afghan photographers collaborated to transport viewers to the streets of Kabul, showcase the landscapes of Afghanistan and portray the images of the people who live there.

After having toured the U.S., Streets of Afghanistan‘s collection of 40 life-size images will now make its way full circle by way of several public showings in Kabul itself, and will enable the people of Afghanistan to not only see these captivating photographs, but to comment, discuss and interact with them as well.

Mountain2Mountain founder Shannon Galpin says it best in a recent Streets of Afghanistan post:

“Photography transcends language and challenges stereotypes and bringing showing this exhibition publicly in Afghanistan challenges what we think is capable in a country like this. Art has the power to inspire, to spark conversation, and to bring joy – showcasing these images in public areas where Afghans can enjoy art for art’s sake, and be proud of the beauty and spirit of their country.”

To learn more about the Streets of Afghanistan project and view some of the photos from it, check out the M2M Field Notes blog here. For updates and info, follow Mountain to Mountain on Facebook.

Photos Courtesy Chris Horton and Streets of Afghanistan’s Facebook Page

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Streets of Afghanistan in Denver April 28: Support Mountain2Mountain To Empower Women + Girls

April 26th, 2011

The Denver Art Museum is hosting Streets of Afghanistan this Thursday, April 28, in an effort to connect communities and cultures in a country that has endured nearly four decades of conflict. Proceeds from the exhibition, created by Mountain2Mountain (M2M), a Colorado-based nonprofit, will support programs including girls’ education, efforts to help imprisoned women and children and support for the Afghan youth movement.

Read more…

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