The Cleanest Line

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    The Retail Life

    By Craig Holloway

    Jas0115craig Before I came to work at Patagonia, I was employed for many years with an outdoor retailer in Evanston, Illinois. It’s the customers I remember best.

    There were Gary and Sally, who would drop by to talk about their yearly rafting trip to Montana. Alan liked to hand me pictures of his beloved red ’72 Corvette to look over while he tried on clothes; I remember a red Guide Parka in particular that his girlfriend said looked good on him. The McMahon family always stopped by to shop; Michael and Patrick were two years apart in age, and I’d ask them how school was going and what colleges they planned to attend. Another customer, James, grew up on Chicago’s South Side and was a foreman for a large printing press company in the city. We’d chat about the recent vacation he took with his family to New Mexico, and his desire to return there.

    [Craig Holloway checks the day’s sales, while the great Gina Shelton takes a customer’s call. All photos: Craig Holloway Collection]

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    The Voodoo Bike

    By Craig Holloway

    P1020464 Sometime in the late '80s, my bike mechanic friend John finally agreed to sell me his 1972 British-made Raleigh bicycle. I handed him $150 dollars in cash and a cold, six-pack of beer. He cracked open two brews, handed one back to me, and we both took long swigs, saluting the voodoo bike. I asked John where the bike’s name came from and he had no idea. He did request that I bring the voodoo in for maintenance every now and then. We shook hands, and then I wheeled the faded red single-speed out the bike shop’s door toward Chicago’s lakefront.

    Editor's note: Today's story comes from yoga instructor, daily bike commuter and Patagonia editor, Craig Holloway.

    The voodoo is one of the last production bicycles made by Raleigh before it was sold to an Asian manufacturer. The bicycle’s most elegant feature is the headlamp post, with its engraved phoenix situated in front of the handlebars. Children notice the phoenix right away and like to rub its metal beak. The voodoo also features old-fashioned, cable-rod lever brakes, brazed-on pump pegs, and a nifty foldout basket attached to the rear fender. The frame’s geometry makes for an aristocratic upright ride, and eccentric viewing for drivers and passers-by.

    [The voodoo rests against a tree at the Patagonia campus. Ventura, California. All photos: Craig Holloway]

    Continue reading "The Voodoo Bike" »

    Six Months Here ... Six Months Gone

    By Craig Holloway


    Last month Uncle Dave returned to the Patagonia campus. Like a bird he migrates back to Ventura for a spell then flies off to New England or Greece for self-rejuvenation. In the six months that he spends on campus he tends the grounds with meticulous precision. The windblown leaves are swept clean from the parking lot. The flowerbeds near the front entrance are tidy. The stone walkways beneath the solar panels are weed-free, even the nooks and crannies are spick and span. His gardening tools are simple in design, effective in their use and not electric or gasoline powered. They are neatly situated in a large gray receptacle, its bottom fitted with wheels for easier maneuverability. The receptacle’s wheels squeak loudly, announcing Uncle Dave’s presence. Each workday starts and ends with his trusted canvas bag in tow, its handles frayed but still functional; the bag might be filled with café leftovers, last Sunday’s New York Times or a paperback copy of The Gates of Fire: 300 Spartan warriors who fought the invading Persian Empire in the legendary Battle of Thermopylae.

    Many Patagonia employees have known Uncle Dave for years and have already welcomed him back. And he will let his friends know how good it is to see them, and let them know how good he feels to be back.

    Uncle Dave’s stay in Ventura is now longer than it used to be. Even in his mid-eighties he continues to travel back home for New England’s crisp fall and unforgiving winter. For now it’s February and everyone is glad to have him back.

    [Uncle Dave met Yvon Chouinard in the '60s when Dave was getting the famous Grand Teton Climbers' Ranch up and running. He's been working seasonally at Patagonia HQ since the early '70s. Photo: Free]

    Inside/Outside: Questions for Patagonia’s Writer and Editor Vincent Stanley

    Img_8192_3_2 Craig Holloway is back with another insightful interview. This time around Craig chats with Vincent Stanley, who's been working with his uncle, Yvon Chouinard, for the last 35 years (on and off). Vincent is currently the head writer and editor for Patagonia's marketing team. [Photo by Tim Davis]

    CRAIG: You have been employed with Patagonia on and off for the past 35 years. What is the one thing at Patagonia that has stayed the same all the years that you have been here?

    VINCENT: That it’s more than a business. There’s even a phrase now for companies like ours, for-profits who care about other things: social enterprise. A social enterprise is said to wend a path somewhere between that of a conventional business and an NGO. Back in the early seventies no such thing was considered possible. We were a social enterprise before you could name it.

    CRAIG: In one word – describe what the Chouinard family means to you.

    VINCENT: Home. I don’t seem to feel at home anywhere fully but I do when I’m with my family. I’m a Chouinard on my mother’s side. Yvon was my boyhood hero and later, after I came to work here, mentor. Our lives – his and Malinda’s and Nora’s and mine are interwoven many ways, by our shared experience as family, by all these years at Patagonia, and finally as friends. We and a few other old friends from the company – like the Ridgeways – share a worldview; everyone’s is a bit different but close enough.

    The Chouinards by the way are all formidable storytellers. If Aunt Doris had become a writer I’d have had to retire my pen.

    Continue reading "Inside/Outside: Questions for Patagonia’s Writer and Editor Vincent Stanley" »

    Once Upon a Wetland

    By Craig Holloway

    071201018_3_3 Sara Benjamin is the Project Director for “Once Upon a Wetland” – a watershed education and wetland restoration project of Oak Grove School in Ojai, California. In partnership with the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy, Meiners Oaks Elementary School and Nordoff High School, the project engages students and the community in restoring the Ojai Meadows Preserve and the Ventura River Watershed.

    Recently I spoke with Sara about her work with the “Once Upon a Wetland” project.

    Craig: You have a Bachelor’s degree in Earth Systems and Masters degree in marine geology. What led you to study these subjects? Were you interested in environmental sciences as a high school student?

    Sara: I am passionate about the interconnected and interdependent aspects of life. In school I studied every facet of life on Earth and the relationships and intersections between these systems: animals, plants, soil, rocks, water, wind, energy, matter, chemistry, biology and physics. This curiosity led me to study the whole Earth System and examine our biosphere, atmosphere, cryosphere, lithosphere and hydrosphere and the relationships, and feedbacks between all of these systems. We delineate so that we can begin to understand the whole Earth by getting a good look at all of the parts; nothing exists independently - everything is connected.

    I started to see Earth as a living system and continued my education with a Masters degree in marine geology. The ocean is where new earth is born and eventually dies, being recycled back into the mantle to be born again along a mid-ocean ridge. Plate tectonics points elegantly to the Gaia hypothesis that had made sense to me since childhood; Earth as a living organism.

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    Ultrainterview: Krissy Moehl Talks Hardrock 100

    Krissy_moehl_2 Patagonia wordsmith and former ultrarunner, Craig Holloway recently interviewed Patagonia ambassador, Krissy Moehl about her win at this year’s Hardrock 100 in Silverton, Colorado. Krissy is considered one of the top female ultramarathon runners in the country.

    Craig: Congratulations on setting the women’s course record (29:24) at the 2007 Hardrock 100. You were the first woman and placed third overall. How is your recovery going?

    Krissy: Recovery is such an important and overlooked part of endurance events. In the first week following Hardrock I felt great, probably soaring high from the endorphins and excitement of a surprise success. I was definitely sore in the joints (knees and ankles) and could tell I’d done something. My muscles fared surprisingly well through all of the elevation changes. I ate a ton during the event and think that helped me avoid muscle cramping and tearing/breakdown. In the second post recovery week I started to feel depleted and exhausted. Traveling home to Seattle and then to the East Coast for work I didn’t get much sleep and was away from any kind of normal routine. Slowly, I’m coming around.

    [Krissy Moehl on the trail. Photo: Luis Escobar]

    Continue reading "Ultrainterview: Krissy Moehl Talks Hardrock 100" »

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