The Cleanest Line

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    Delta Dawn

    By Pete McBride

    On an unusual Monday in March in the hamlet of San Luis Río Colorado, in the Mexican state of Sonora, hundreds of people gathered below a bridge that spans the dry channel of the Colorado River. The polka-beat of Ranchero music mixed with the sound of laughter across the sandy basin. It was a party of all ages and everyone waited for the guest of honor: agua.

    Editor's note: In 2011, Patagonia's environmental campaign, Our Common Waters, explored the need to balance human water needs with those of animals and plants. One of the most powerful stories to come out of that campaign was Pete McBride traveling the length of the Colorado River in his short film, Chasing Water. Today, we're pleased to share a follow-up story from Pete.

    Located 23 miles downstream of Morelos Dam—the last dam on the Colorado—San Luis is where the river finally leaves the border behind and journeys into mainland Mexico. From here, the riverbed winds 80 some miles (148 kms) to the Sea of Cortez. But for nearly two decades, water has rarely escaped the sealed downstream gates of the dam. Instead, Mexico's entire Colorado River allocation turns west—diverted into the giant, concrete irrigation Reforma Canal so we can eat baby spinach in the winter. What is left below is a river of sand.

    Above: Delta Dawn - Paddling a River Run Free. Video: Pete McBride.

    Continue reading "Delta Dawn" »

    Trying to Be Responsible – Patagonia Environmental & Social Initiatives 2014

    By Jim Little

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    We just finished our 2014 Environmental & Social Initiatives booklet and would love to share it with you. In it you’ll find a pretty comprehensive accounting of everything Patagonia did this year to conduct ourselves in an environmentally and socially conscious manner. The booklet includes stories about our efforts as a business and as individuals, and a list of all the environmental groups (770 of them working in 16 countries) we helped to support.

    Above are some shots from the booklet’s table of contents to give you a taste of what lies within, and below the fold, an easy to digest number-by-number approach (ala Harper’s Index) that quantifies some of our work. If you’d like to dive in deeper, click the booklet at the end of this post and flip through the pages. We hope you enjoy!

    Photos: (clockwise, top left-right) Eli Steltenpohl, Mikey Schaefer, Lindsay Walker, Tony Clevenger, Ben Knight. Artwork: Amanda Lenz 

    Continue reading "Trying to Be Responsible – Patagonia Environmental & Social Initiatives 2014" »

    A River Reborn – Floating the Elwha River after dam removal

    By Dylan Tomine

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    It’s difficult to put into words exactly how it feels to experience the newly free Elwha River. Gratitude, for sure, for all the people and organizations who put so much into bringing the dams down. And awe, as nature takes over and the river finds it’s new-old path to the sea. And fun, of course, to be there taking it all in with my good friend and DamNation producer/underwater photographer, Matt Stoecker.

    We floated the Elwha under crazy blue skies and warm air, with the winners of the Patagonia/DamNation photo contest and our gracious hosts from Olympic Raft & Kayak. All around amazing experience. Despite what the dam-removal critics said, the sediment load in the water has settled out quickly, leaving the water clear, with the slight milky, blue-green tint one expects of a glacial river in summertime.

    Above: A painted crack and message on Glines Canyon Dam foreshadowed its removal over two decades later. Elwha River, Olympic National Park, Washington in a scene from DamNation. Photo: Mikal Jakubal

    Continue reading "A River Reborn – Floating the Elwha River after dam removal" »

    Major Environmental Victory in Chile!

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    “Chile’s Committee of Ministers – the country’s highest administrative authority – has cancelled the environmental permits for the five-dam hydropower project, HidroAysén, effectively stopping the scheme that threatened the Baker and Pascua Rivers in Patagonia.” –Emily Jovais, International Rivers

    This is an issue we've been involved with since 2007 and we couldn't be more thrilled. Check out International Rivers' blog for more on today's announcement. Congratulations to everyone who has worked hard on this victory, especially the Chilean people. The Baker and Pascua Rivers are running free!

    [Above: May 19, 2011, Patagonia Headquarters, Ventura, California. In Chile and other Spanish-speaking countries they call it a cacerolazo – a stew-pot protest. Watch the video. Photo: Tim Davis]

    Dirtbag Diaries Podcast: Live From 5Point, Vol. 7

    By Fitz & Becca Cahall

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    A month ago, we headed south for our annual pilgrimage to the 5Point Film Festival and our live Dirtbag Diaries. Today, we share stories from two women, from two different generations who share a love for rivers. In 2013, Amber Valenti had the opportunity to paddle one of the last great free-flowing rivers in the world—The Amur River. Amber, along with three other women paddlers, documented the river from its remote headwaters in Mongolia to the wide-ribboned channels in Russia. Amber wrote and produced the film, Nobody's River, filled with hilarious antics and the soulful exploration of a new place and oneself.

    Our next guest, Katie Lee (featured in DamNation), was a force to have on stage. Feisty, poignant and ready to tell you what she thinks—Katie is not your typical nonagenarian. Katie started her career as an actress in Hollywood, but soon left it behind after taking her first trip down the Grand Canyon. But it was Glen Canyon that she fell in love with. When it was flooded in 1963, Katie used her voice to write songs and books about the river and the west. And she's still using her voice as an activist for the environment.

    Warning: This episode contains strong language.


    Listen to "Live From 5Point, Vol. 7" by The Dirtbag Diaries on Soundcloud.


    Visit dirtbagdiaries.com for links to past episodes, featured music and to pledge your support. You can subscribe to the podcast via iTunes, RSS, SoundCloud and Stitcher, or connect with the Dirtbag Diaries community on Facebook and Twitter. The Dirtbag Diaries is a Duct Tape Then Beer production.

    [Graphic by Walker Cahall]

    DamNation to Screen in 23 Patagonia Stores Nationwide on June 5, Available Digitally at Vimeo On Demand on June 6

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    Winner – SXSW Audience Choice Award
    Winner – Documentary Award for Environmental Advocacy, DC Environmental Film Festival
    Winner – Mountainfilm Audience Choice Award
    Winner – Best of Festival, 5Point Film Festival

    On Thursday, June 5, Patagonia will present the award-winning, feature length documentary DamNation, in 23 cities nationwide. Free screenings will be hosted at Patagonia Retail Stores and are open to the public. For a full list of nationwide, festival and community screenings, please visit damnationfilm.com.
     
    The following day, June 6, DamNation will be available at Vimeo On Demand for digital viewing. DamNation will be available to rent ($5.99) or buy ($9.99) for viewing on almost any device. As part of our unique collaboration with Vimeo, we curated a number of ecologically minded titles, including DamNation, in the Patagonia Collection on Vimeo On Demand.

    Continue reading "DamNation to Screen in 23 Patagonia Stores Nationwide on June 5, Available Digitally at Vimeo On Demand on June 6" »

    Sunset for HidroAysén, Daybreak for Patagonia

    By Emily Jovais, International Rivers

    No other energy project has galvanized Chileans to action like HidroAysén–a proposal to build five dams on the pristine Baker and Pascua rivers in the Patagonia region. It has already triggered numerous debates and changes within Chile, and the final decision on the project, which will be made in less than one month, will continue to have far-reaching consequences beyond the dams themselves.

    While HidroAysén is already affecting change, the final ruling on the legality of the project’s approval could set in motion vastly different courses for Chile. One that allows for more megadams and mining in Patagonia or one that leads to considerable environmental reform.

    Editor’s note: Readers who’ve seen 180° South will be familiar with this issue. Read on for an update on the dams, and then please consider taking take action at the end.

    [Video: Environmental Update - May 2014 from Rios Libres.]

    Continue reading "Sunset for HidroAysén, Daybreak for Patagonia" »

    Tear Down ‘Deadbeat’ Dams – NY Times op-ed calls on President Obama to restore America’s rivers

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    A note from Patagonia CEO, Rose Marcario:

    In the past month and a half, I’ve been watching DamNation really take off. It’s really not surprising—as a result of this amazing film, people are discovering dam removal is an issue they care about and they’re taking real action to push for change. We've seen it gaining momentum in recent weeks—great audience reception, positive press coverage, more than 23,500 petition signatures—and last week, the publication of an op-ed by Yvon Chouinard in The New York Times.

    Check out Yvon’s piece below if you haven’t read it already.

    In order to continue this great run, we need your help as messengers for DamNation and the critical argument it makes for the health of our rivers. In order for it truly to make an impact, we need to make sure President Obama sees that his constituents care about removing deadbeat dams—and they want him to act.

    [Above: A painted crack and message on Glines Canyon Dam foreshadowed its removal over two decades later. Elwha River, Olympic National Park, Washington in a scene from DamNation. Photo: Mikal Jakubal]

    Continue reading "Tear Down ‘Deadbeat’ Dams – NY Times op-ed calls on President Obama to restore America’s rivers" »

    Solutions Series, Part 4: Solutions in Business

    By Annie Leonard

    Annie_bio_photo
    "There is no business to be done on a dead planet." 
    –David Brower

    Back in in the day, an activist colleague of mine liked to wisecrack that whenever corporations talked about environmental solutions everyone could live with, what they meant were "solutions" only a politically acceptable number of people would die from.

    That is so 1980s! Sure, some businesses haven't changed; they're still trashing the planet, wreaking havoc on the climate and endangering our health with toxic chemicals. But those tired old assumptions that pollution is the inevitable price of progress, or that we have to choose between good jobs and a healthy environment, are increasingly outdated.

    Continue reading "Solutions Series, Part 4: Solutions in Business" »

    Building Patagonia National Park: A decade-long partnership with Patagonia, Inc.

    By Colin Pile & Alison Kelman

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    Here in the northeast spring is finally here. Flowers are blossoming, the birds are back, and we can finally peel off our winter layers and soak up a little sun. Still, even a month after we’ve returned, a part of us is still in Patagonia. In February and March of this year, Alison and I spent three weeks volunteering with Conservacion Patagonica. We both work for Patagonia, Inc., an outdoor clothing company with a commitment to responsible business and creating solutions to the environment crisis. Though we’d never met in person before our trip, our work connection made us feel like old friends once we joined the rest of our volunteer group in the park.

    Patagonia, the company, took its name from Patagonia, the place, born from the desire to make clothing and gear suitable for such wild terrain. Patagonia’s partnership with Conservacion Patagonica allowed us the opportunity to take that trip-of-a-lifetime. Each year, a select few employees have the chance to take some time away from their work and volunteer with a non-profit environmental organization (up to two months!), secure in the knowledge they have a job to return to after it’s all done.

    [Above: The soon-to-be Patagonia National Park. Photo: Colin Pile]

    Continue reading "Building Patagonia National Park: A decade-long partnership with Patagonia, Inc." »

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    © 2014 Patagonia, Inc.