The Cleanest Line

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    « November 2008 | Main | January 2009 »

    Shopping Consciously for the Holidays

    Nicole Bassett is Patagonia's Social Responsibility Manager. As such, she is charged with traveling the world to visit our factories and verify the integrity of their manufacturing process. Thanks to her unique expertise, she gets peppered with questions from people eager to spend their dollars in the most beneficial way possible. In today's post, Nicole shares socially responsible shopping tips for the remainder of your holiday season.

    As a Patagonia Social Responsibility Manager, I routinely review factory working conditions. I have been asked a lot of questions lately by friends looking to buy their Christmas presents, questions like: "Is it OK to buy from Company X?" or "What are the working conditions like at Company Y?"

    It is great to hear from people who want to put their money toward companies that care about the working conditions and the health of the workers who make their products. These are good questions since there are a lot of companies that have great programs and are really making a difference. There are also other companies that at least monitor their supply chains. Then, unfortunately, there are brands that do nothing at all. Figuring all of this out takes some work. Each dollar we spend in the market is a vote of support to this brand or that brand.

    So what's my response to my friends?  I would like to share it with you:

    Continue reading "Shopping Consciously for the Holidays" »

    O Tannenbaum + 1% For the Planet Auction

    Snowflake We have a two-for-one special today on TCL. First up is the Dirtbag Diaries holiday podcast. Host Fitz Cahall sets the stage (Clark Griswold would be proud Fitz):

    Warning: This episode contains radio nudity and Christmas carols.

    Christmas trees are a massive business. Americans spent $2.5 billion on Christmas trees in 2007. For the last five years, I have been stingier than Scrooge when it comes to a Yule Tree. In 2008, I’m a changed man. Armed with a handsaw and empowered by a National Forest permit, I wandered out into the Cascades to search for the perfect Christmas tree. Sometimes in the darkest days of winter, a little light isn’t a bad thing.

    Audio_graphic_20px Listen to O Tannenbaum (mp3 - 14:40 - right-click to download)

    Autographed_dm3_3 Next up, our friends at 1% For the Planet are offering the opportunity to bid on one heck of a holiday gift:

    To coincide with the launch of our Online Store we are pleased to offer one special item to the highest bidder this holiday season - a DM3 Fletcher Chouinard Designs surfboard autographed by Jack Johnson. Bidding ends tomorrow (December 17th) at 8pm EST. You could relish in the joy of owning (or giving) this rare autographed surfboard and know your contribution supports 1% for the Planet’s efforts of Keeping the Earth in Business.

    Visit the auction page for more information or to bid. After you place your bid, check out TCL reader lubdub's photos of 1% for the Planet CEO Terry Kellogg skiing some beautiful powder.

    Time Running Out to Save Utah Treasures

    Utah3 December 19th is quickly approaching, and with it, the fate of vast tracts of Utah's stunning red-rock wilderness. This is the scheduled date for an upcoming Bureau of Land Management (BLM) public lands auction, in which approximately 270,000+ acres will be sold to the highest bidder for oil and/or natural gas development projects.

    This auction--which was "announced" to the public on Election Night, November 4th 2008--has been, according to BLM Director James Caswell, in development for the past seven years. The timing of the announcement, combined with the virtually thousands of pages of review documentation relating to those pieces of land, have created an outcry. Critics, which include the National Park Service (NPS), have harshly criticized the BLM's approach, calling it purposefully delayed, strategically under-announced, carefully timed to prevent thorough review, and carelessly assembled with little consideration for environmental impacts, or the wide array of "multiple uses" that all public lands sale leases must incorporate. Utah2

    The NPS's strong criticism of the original BLM auction plans stem primarily from the location of some of the lease parcels: tens of thousands of acres situated very close to the boundaries of Arches National Park, Desolation Wilderness, and Dinosaur National Monument, to name a few. This is particularly surprising to those who are aware that both the BLM and NPS both fall under the auspices of the same parent organization, the Department of the Interior.

    Citizens who are disinclined to permit extensive, industrial-scale development in the form of oil and gas drilling rigs and refining operations immediately next to protected national treasures like Arches have been speaking out in droves. And they have not been deterred by headlines suggesting the more contentious tracts have been removed from the land sale proposal. While the BLM has indeed removed approx. 100,000 acres from its original proposal after harsh NPS criticism, many acres abutting pristine and protected natural areas are still up for grabs.

    Utah4A response to Director Caswell's Letter to the Editor of the Salt Lake Tribune on Dec. 12 is available from the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) to help make clear the public's options at this point in the proposal.

    Your action is urgently needed to help stop petroleum development in these beautiful, fragile, treasured lands. Please make your voice heard by taking action at the National Resource Defense Council's Save Biogems action center, or by clicking the big, yellow TAKE ACTION button on SUWA's website.

    A Moment of Silence

    One year ago today, everyone at Patagonia was shocked by the sudden death of our dear friend and co-worker Kenny Harbaugh. Two weeks later, Brian Fritz, another beloved colleague, left us all too soon. We're having a moment of silence today at 11am (PST) in remembrance of these two remarkable individuals, and the families they left behind. Today's post is dedicated to their memories.

    The Alpine Briefs – An Online Newsletter from the Editors of the American Alpine Journal

    Alpine_briefs_2_2 Patagonia ambassador Kelly Cordes just sent word of a new margarita-fueled project he's been working on: The Alpine Briefs, a web-based newsletter filled with news, expedition reports, essays, gems from the American Alpine Journal archives, and other material of interest to alpine climbers.

    As senior editor of the American Alpine Journal (AAJ), Kelly spends his non-climbing hours editing the massive, once-a-year print journal for the members of the American Alpine Club (AAC). With the advent of The Alpine Briefs, AAJ contributors, AAC members and alpinists around the world can get a taste of the Journal on a bi-monthly basis (+/- depending on trips and tequila reserves).

    We asked Kelly for a personal comment and he sent us something like a press release -- we fear he might be readying for a career change and move to NYC for work at a PR-agency:

    The idea for The Alpine Briefs came together from some moderately creative thoughts floating around in my head, combined with something we at the AAJ often discuss among ourselves: that we get lots of cool things that we can't fit into the book. Sometimes it's multiple great photos, other times it's the story behind the climb, and other times it's an adventure on an awesome new route that might be too short for us to run in the limited space of the book.

    Continue reading "The Alpine Briefs – An Online Newsletter from the Editors of the American Alpine Journal" »

    My Footprint - Ode to a Dead Volvo

    A new citizen is emerging. That citizen is engaged, concerned, and most of all, confident; confident in his or her choice as a consumer, confident in his or her power as an employee, confident that change is possible.

    The Footprint Chronicles were developed to document the changes we’re making as a company to lighten our environmental impact and do less harm. These chronicles are as much an inspiration to Patagonia employees as they are an outgrowth of our personal values. The “My Footprint” series shares the stories of Patagonia employees who have been inspired by the Chronicles, and whose inspiring lives help fuel the vision of what we can do as a company.

    Their stories are offered here, glimpses of individual footprints spotted along the path toward positive change.  We invite you to enjoy these personal accounts, and share your own in the Comments included with these posts.
    __________________________________________________________

    He was a 1989 Volvo station wagon, silver gray, turbo. We bought him used, one owner, in 1995, for $12,000 and we were lucky. We had another Volvo at home, a snappy red 850 (1993) who had a kind of Viking joie de vivre, if Scandinavians can be said to have joy in life. We named her Freya. When we brought the station wagon home it was clear he was more patient, less a Viking than a modern Swede, a socialist perhaps, and so we named him Oskar.

    Oskar was my car. The first time he and I went on a longish trip, it was from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles with a friend in heavy rain. We hit rush hour traffic on the Pasadena Freeway, an elderly roadway of narrow lanes and bad curves, and Oskar drove like a draft horse, pushing his chest through the squalls and the waves from trucks, mowing his way past drowned sports cars.

    He was comfortable. His leather seats were high, and reclined, like Eames chairs. When I drove him north to San Francisco the first time with another friend, she said, “It’s like driving in a living room.”

    Continue reading "My Footprint - Ode to a Dead Volvo" »

    Dear Winter, Please Show Up

    Pray_for_snow Just about a month ago, a gentleman named Carson Bennett made this simple statement: "I'm snow hungry."

    The pronouncement opened his essay for the online mountain-news source NewWest.net. In his essay, Mr. Bennett gave voice to stirrings that affect many of us this time of year--the desire to be out in the mountains, and the release that snow provides to spirits otherwise bound indoors by the cold and dark. The essay appeared in mid November, perfectly timed to voice the restlessness of all those Westerners whose estimation of a "normal" ski season is one that starts by Halloween.Rose_shoulder_003

    For most of us, little has changed since Mr. Bennett starkly observed that, "[a]s I write this, nothing but sun is falling anywhere in the Western U.S." To be fair to the snow gods, as I write this, storms are sweeping into Montana and Colorado. Still, while skiers in those states--and a smattering in Utah and California--can boast about open chairs, all agree the season has yet to begin in earnest. In fact, it's been quiet in a way it rarely is. Something has been missing.

    Long-time friend of The Cleanest Line and sometimes soundtrack-provider, Don Darue, is back with a podcast just in time to remind us of what that might be. If you have a moment, or just need a little music to soothe your unsettled soul through the rough start to this still stubbornly snowless season, consider Don's suggestion to throw another log on the fire (if it's cold enough) and settle in to the annual Risky Biscuit Hayseed Hoot Winter Welcome Show. It's a nice soundtrack for all of your snow dancing.

    And of course, don't hesitate to use the comments section to share your woes, or better yet, your favorite snow tunes.

    [Top: Photo courtesy The Risky Biscuit Hayseed Hoot. Bottom: Patagonia Dealer Services Mgr. Gregor Finke enjoying some of last year's local treats.]

    The Winner of the Hand Cut DVD is ...

    Results_final_2 Bootleggin' Peggin'! The Random Clock Time Generator reached into the void and pulled out the time of 16:16 (4:16 PM) -- Bootleggin' Peggin's comment was posted at the auspicious time of 4:10 PM. Congratulations! Screen-grabs are enclosed for posterity.

    Bonus prizes: We just scored two copies of the Hand Cut soundtrack for the runner-ups. The winners of the soundtrack are a cobbs with a comment time of 4:26 PM, and ANde who chimed in at 4:48 PM. They'll soon be groovin' to the soulful blues riffs of John-Alex Mason.

    I was able to watch Hand Cut last night and it certainly carries the stoney vibe of the trailer throughout the film. This is not your typical high-octane, XX-treme ski flick. The scenery is pristine (not a lift in sight) and the pacing is very deliberate -- a nod I think to the patience and presence that comes from being in the backcountry. If you're looking for a little inspiration this winter, Hand Cut can be purchased through the Sweetgrass Productions site or at Patagonia.com.

    Thanks to everyone who entered. Hope you all get good snow this year. Stay tuned for our next contest.

    [With thanks to Big Toe for hooking up the extra prizes.]

    My Footprint - All That Rots

    A new citizen is emerging. That citizen is engaged, concerned, and most of all, confident; confident in his or her choice as a consumer, confident in his or her power as an employee, confident that change is possible.

    The Footprint Chronicles were developed to document the changes we’re making as a company to lighten our environmental impact and do less harm. These chronicles are as much an inspiration to Patagonia employees as they are an outgrowth of our personal values. The “My Footprint” series shares the stories of Patagonia employees who have been inspired by the Chronicles, and whose inspiring lives help fuel the vision of what we can do as a company.

    Their stories are offered here, glimpses of individual footprints spotted along the path toward positive change.  We invite you to enjoy these personal accounts, and share your own in the Comments included with these posts.

    __________________________________________________________

    1cafe We have a café here at Patagonia HQ in Ventura that serves breakfast and lunch to some 150-200 employees and visitors. Along with daily entrees, we have a full salad bar with largely organic fixings. Food-prep and plate-scrapings at the Lost Arrow Café generate about 50 lbs. of veggie refuse a week. Rather than throw it away, we compost it.

    2nick_kitchen Some afternoons, Nick Velasquez, one of the creative geniuses in the kitchen, partners with Kevin Dee, another environmentally minded employee who makes clothing in our sample room. The two wheel a big bucket of veggie scraps, coffee grounds, spent paper napkins, eggshells and other compostables across the parking lot to our on-site bin. Ours is a custom-built container made of plastic wood - which doesn't warp as readily as the real stuff - wire and corrugated tin. It has three compartments: a starter, middle and finish.

    [Top: The Lost Arrow Café at Patagonia HQ serves up tasty, mostly organic goodness every day. Right: Nick Velasquez preparing delectables. Photos: Jim Little]

    Continue reading "My Footprint - All That Rots" »

    New Story in the Tin Shed – Bat's Ears, the First Ascent

    Base_camp_turgeon The fire in the forge has been rekindled – a new story waits inside the Tin Shed. Patagonia ambassador Maxime Turgeon has narrated a slide show of photos from Alaska that depict three climbs he made in April/May 2008.

    First you'll follow Maxime up the previously unclimbed Bat's Ears Peak with Ben Gilmore and Freddie Wilkinson. The same trio then head over to Mount Hunter for a shot at the classic Moonflower Buttress. Finally, Maxime connects with fellow Patagonia ambassador Zoe Hart to climb Deprivation, also on Mount Hunter. Maxime called the trip his "best alpine week ever." 

    View Maxime Turgeon's Narrated Slide Show in the Tin Shed

    If you're new to the Tin Shed, be sure and explore the rest of the stories inside. Click "Return to the Shed" from Maxime's slide show to have a look around, or start here for an introduction to the building that housed Chouinard Equipment Co. and eventually spawned Patagonia.

    [Base camp with Bat's Ears in the background. Photo: Maxime Turgeon]

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