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    « May 2013 | Main | July 2013 »

    Solutions Series, Part 1: The Babies in the River

    By Annie Leonard, The Story of Stuff Project

    Annie_leonardOnce upon a time in a riverside village, a woman noticed a shocking sight: a drowning baby, crying its lungs out, being washed downriver. She rushed to save it, rescuing the baby just before it went over the falls at the edge of town.

    The next day there were two babies in the river; the day after, three more, then four. With the help of her neighbors, the woman saved them, too. When babies kept washing downstream, the village banded together, setting up a 24-hour rescue watch. Still the babies kept coming. So the community installed an elaborate alarm system and strung safety nets across the river but was still overwhelmed trying to save them the babies.

    Continue reading "Solutions Series, Part 1: The Babies in the River" »

    From a Wheelchair to the Sharp End – Story of the First Ever Paraplegic Lead Climb

     By Dave N. Campbell

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    Sean O'Neill lead climbing the 2nd pitch of Jamcrack. ©Dave N. Campbell

    Take a moment and imagine yourself in Yosemite. You are climbing up a steep rock face, above the trees, with Half Dome behind you, but you do not have the security of a rope that can pull you taut from above if you get tired or slip. Instead, you are lead climbing. Somewhere down below a friend is feeding you rope – you are tied in at the waist – and every ten feet or so, as you move upwards, you are obligated to wedge man-made devices into openings where the rock is fractured so you can clip your rope into them as a safety measure. You're putting your life on the line, trusting that the rope will eventually come tight on the most recent one of these devices if you fall.

    Climbers refer to the procedure of lead climbing as being on the sharp end of the rope because of the inherent dangers involved and the accelerated focus that is required. And while advanced climbers constantly dream about being in this Yosemite scenario, I think it is fair to say that much of the rest of the population would find themselves in a nightmare.

    Now picture yourself in this exact scenario – whether you are an experienced climber or novice – except that you are paralyzed from the waist down. This is where most of our imaginations trail off… but this spring in Yosemite Valley, paraplegic climber Sean O’Neill made this his reality by becoming the first “sit climber” to lead climb.

    Continue reading "From a Wheelchair to the Sharp End – Story of the First Ever Paraplegic Lead Climb" »

    Rios Libres: Environmental Dispatches – Episode 4, The Movement

    By Kate Ross, International Rivers



    Patagonia is one of the few precious places on the planet where the array of natural beauty still defies human imagination. You are forced to think of new adjectives to describe the dramatic backdrop of snow-capped mountains and the glaciers that stand juxtaposed with green rolling hills and sheer rock faces. And through all of this flow the beguiling blues and greens of Patagonia’s largest and most powerful rivers – the Baker and the Pascua. As you stand by the side of the Baker River, the roar of the current drowns out any other sounds and the pulse of the river consumes you and transports you. It is a place unlike any other I have experienced.

    The campaign to protect Patagonia – and specifically the mighty rivers of the region – has become the largest environmental struggle in the country’s history. Chileans have shown their opposition to HidroAysén by taking to the streets in the thousands. Most recently – as you see in Q’s film above – in response to a Supreme Court ruling in April 2012 in favor of HidroAysén, and before this in the lead-up to and after-math of the approval of the project’s Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) in 2011.

    Continue reading "Rios Libres: Environmental Dispatches – Episode 4, The Movement" »

    Of Rats and Men

    By Sean Villanueva O’Driscoll

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    If you are chained to a wall in a dark dungeon famished rats will slowly nibble at your flesh. You can kick, scream and quiver all you want but the rats will sluggishly keep nipping away until they reach your heart and your body goes lifeless. Then they keep going until there is nothing left.

    While that might seem like a torture scenario from the Middle Ages, I’ve seen it happen many times. When the bad weather comes, and stays, day after day, and you’re stuck in a tent, a cave or a portaledge, every day you wake up with renewed hope that is quickly crushed by the same old bad weather. Much like the rat slowly eating the corpse, the Patagonian weather has a way of slowly nipping at your motivation. It can transform the most eager and enthusiastic climber into an empty, burnt out, uninspired bum. And when the good weather finally comes, there is nothing left.

    [Above: Cold conditions during a summit attempt on Cerro Catedral, in Torres Del Paine, Chile. All photos courtesy of Sean Villanueva O’Driscoll]

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    Rios Libres: Environmental Dispatches – Episode 3, The Alternatives

    By Amanda Maxwell, Latin America Advocate for the NRDC



    “El Norte tiene el mejor potencial solar en el mundo. ¡En el mundo! ¿Pues por qué quieren represas en el Sur? Es una locura. Absolutamente una locura.”

    “The North of Chile has the best solar potential in the world. In the world! So why do they want dams in the South? It’s crazy. Absolutely crazy.”

    A taxi driver told me these words in May 2011 on the way from the Arturo Merino Benitez Airport to my hotel in Santiago, and they have stuck with me ever since. Just days earlier, Chile’s authorities had approved the massive $10 billion HidroAysén project – five dams proposed on two of Patagonia’s wildest rivers – despite the woeful quality of the project’s environmental impact assessment and the fact that the large majority of Chileans were against the dams. The approval immediately launched demonstrations throughout the country – the largest protests the country had seen in over 20 years. 

    I was not, in fact, in town to participate in the protests. I had come to Chile to present the results of a new study from NRDC about the levelized cost of energy in Chile.* NRDC had commissioned the analysis to test the argument I had heard many times in Chile: that renewables were too expensive to be developed at scale. The results of the study put that argument to rest: it showed that Chile’s biomass, biogas, geothermal, mini-hydro, and wind power options were already cost-competitive with the conventional energies – coal, diesel, and large hydro – in 2011. It also proved that solar would also be cost-competitive in a matter of years.

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    A Belated Bike to Work Week

    By Gavin Back

    Gavin_B2WW

    It should come as little surprise that a company with Patagonia’s environmental stance is a fervent supporter of Bike to Work Week (B2WW). Unfortunately, important business commitments during the week of May 13-17 meant we are unable to participate during the national event. But this has not deterred us from holding a B2WW!

    Patagonia will be holding our annual event next week from June 17-21, 2013. Here at the Reno Distribution Center, our B2WW organizing committee has been working hard to prepare a series of events to celebrate and promote bicycles. We have great participation and support from the local community, especially from Great Basin Bicycles, the Reno Bike Project and Kiwanis. Check them all out!

    In anticipation of the festivities, I thought this blog would be good to promote the hardcore who ride to work nearly every day, come rain or shine (and sometimes snow), and encourage others – whether Patagonia colleagues or not – to get on their bike more than one week a year.

    [Above: Action shot from the successful 2012 Patagonia Critical Mass. Photo: ©Tyler Keck]

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    Lockwood Animal Rescue Center visits Patagonia Reno

    By Laurel Winterbourne

    Andrew and Danny Boy_1

    Danny sleeps peacefully curled up in the corner while Matt, in his boisterous voice, tells the story of Danny’s heroic rescue and horrific existence in captivity in Alaska. On the other side of the room his counterpart Willow sways with sleepiness, falling over every few seconds. She is new to the group and a little more timid with the fifty or so strangers staring at her. She doesn’t want to let her guard down, but exhaustion overwhelms her. It was a long trip from the Lockwood Animal Rescue Center (LARC) in Ventura County to Patagonia’s Service Center in Reno, Nevada.

    It’s hard to imagine that Danny Boy was treated so cruelly when he walks up and licks the faces of the crowd. He was held in captivity as part of a roadside attraction where 29 wolves and wolfdogs were chained up with no more than a few feet to walk around while people paid $5 to toss them a treat. The wolves, only fed every few days, were chained just far enough away from each other that they never touched, surviving thirty below temperatures surrounded by twelve feet of snow. There was no water for them in the winter; they were dependent on the snow and ice for hydration. It was a cruel existence.

    [Above: Andrew and Danny Boy address the crowd. All photos by Glenda Dudley]

    Continue reading "Lockwood Animal Rescue Center visits Patagonia Reno" »

    Running With My Devils

    By Steve Graepel

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    I remember running the 50K and getting off course but fighting back into third place, and I remember that it was hot... hotter than hell. And then... and then nothing...

    I don’t remember collapsing. I have no memories of kicking off good-Samaritan runners who pinned me down to the Prairie floor. I have no recollection of coolers of ice poured over my torso... packed around my groin, armpits and neck. I don’t remember soiling myself. No memories of my clothes being cut from my body in front of dozens of strangers. No memories of the ambulance ride to the local clinic or the life-flight to the Mayo Clinic. I don’t remember any of it.

    Three days later I woke with a plastic tube shoved down my throat. “What the...” I tried to spit out, but the words slipped out as a groan.

    “Cough it out. Cough it out!” shouted a blue silhouette as the corrugated tube ripped across my vocal cords. I chased the tube with vomit and then heard the familiar voice of my wife, calming my anxiety.

    Above: Mike James in Hells Canyon, Idaho. All photos by Steve Graepel

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    Rios Libres: Environmental Dispatches – Episode 2, The History

    By Craig Childs, video by Rios Libres



    It was a good rain that morning in Aysén up a glacial tributary of the Rio Baker. Drips came down through the roof of a one-room house where a young man named Filipe Henriquez stood next to the crackling cocina telling me about how the privatization of water in Chile, the selling of rivers, has interrupted the flow of life. Henriquez said, “My father can’t take water out of the Baker for his livestock. It was sold to HidroAysén. It belongs to Endesa and Colbún. Sure, you can irrigate with it, but it is illegal.”

    Endesa, a multinational power company owned by the Italian energy giant Enel joined the Chilean energy company Colbún in planning to dam the Baker and other rivers in this un-dammed region.

    The table in the house was made with a chainsaw, and on it stood a half-melted candle and an empty wine bottle from the night before. We had just finished breakfast.

    Continue reading "Rios Libres: Environmental Dispatches – Episode 2, The History" »

    The Art of the Resole

    By iFixit

    Recycle_resoles_5

    Mark Sensenbach perches on a stool, back slightly hunched, eyes down, brows narrowed in concentration. His hands, toughened by mountains and work, maneuver the rubber sole of a climbing shoe against a sanding wheel.

    His movements made smooth by practice, Mark runs the shoe back and forth, rotates and repeats. He draws it away from the wheel for a moment and thumbs around the edges of the shoe, feeling for imperfections. There must have been a few, because the shoe goes back to the wheel once again.

    Mark looks up and smiles. “That’s pretty much how it goes in here,” he says, gesturing around his workshop.

    Continue reading "The Art of the Resole" »

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