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    Celebrating Bike to Work Week 2011

    Bike to Work Friday event 107 We celebrated our most successful Bike to Work Week event ever this year with riders, walkers, runners company-wide tallying over 11,991 miles! Employees in Ventura logged in 2,262 miles; Reno logged in 2,155, our U.S. and Toronto retail stores combined logged in 7,151 and our 35 colleagues in Annecy, France added 681 kilometers (just over 423 miles).

    We introduced a new component this year, the Bike to Work Week Challenge Grant, in which our Ventura headquarters, Reno Service Center and all of our North American retail stores partnered with a local non-profit bicycle advocacy organization in which Patagonia donated $1 for every mile an employee pedaled or walked. Through this program, we were able to donate at total of $11,991 with individual grants to 29 hard-working bike advocacy groups such as VCCOOL, Reno Bike Project, Bikes Not Bombs  and Trips for Kids.

    Photo2

    [A bike-chain blackboard that the Patagonia team from our Upper West Side store put together to track their cycling progress.]

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    Patagonia Dating

    by Kelly Cordes

    The latest from our friend and frequent contributor, Mr. Mullestachetino himself. Sometimes, we just shake our head and wonder about this guy.  -Ed

    Standups We have so many ways to connect, and so it brings me great pleasure to present a new idea. We at Patagonia believe that the best connections bring us personal peace and expand our horizons, challenging us as peoples physically, intellectually, spiritually. For example, there’s yoga, surfing, trail running, climbing (yes, yes!), music, whatever it may be.

    Speaking of music, I think the new Patagonia Music program is super rad, the funds go to great enviro causes, and we get to listen to cool tunes (not to nit-pick, but it’d be way better if they could get Motörhead on board) – just click the player while you surf the web and get your namasté on, or whatever. But Patagonia Music is just the tip of the iceberg.

    The best connections usually involve a partner. Which brings to mind a lovely idea for another Patagonia program (as if Patagonia doesn’t get bombarded with enough, “ya know, you guys should…”). We’re Patagonia fans because we have similar interests, right? And what could be better for similarly interested peoples than Patagonia Dating? Imagine, you and your online souuuul mate get together for virtual yoga and herbal teas n stuff, talk about recycling, and if that goes well, maybe you meet in person someday? I’m not talking creepy stuff like sending nekked pictures of yourself over Twitter. Only cool stuff, like climbing and margaritas. I totally think this would fly. I’m gonna ask Yvon if I can head-up this new program.

    [Patagonia Dating . . . Standup Shorts and tube socks not required.]

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    From the Trenches series - Caring for your Down Clothing

    Trenches Like flocks of swirling swallows or shimmering schools of tropical fish, our customers swoop in with mysteriously synchronized concerns and questions on a regular basis, prompting the need for ready answers. Times like these, nothing would be more handy than magically beaming knowledge out into the ether. Our very own Old School is here to do just that. He's stepped back from the front lines to answer some of these more popular questions.

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    How Do I Wash My Down Jacket?

    Ws down sweater Perhaps it due to all the warnings about the perils of wet down, but it seems a lot of people are afraid to wash their down jacket. Down is remarkably tough stuff and though wet down has virtually zero insulation properties, getting it wet doesn’t hurt it in the least. Washing a down jacket is not much harder than washing a pair of jeans. 

    There are 3 things you’ll need to wash your down jacket: down soap, a front load washer, and a dryer with reliably low heat. While you can use regular detergents, they can strip away the natural oils in down and don’t always rinse out cleanly so I recommend using a cleaner specifically designed for down. I find NikWax® Down Wash works really well but there are several other effective down cleaners on the market.

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    Advocate Weeks: Support Local Conservation Efforts with Patagonia Footwear

    Jax-Patagonia Advocate Weeks All 2We’re bringing our partnership with 1% for the Planet to the local level. During Advocate Weeks, the Patagonia Footwear team donates $10 for every pair of Patagonia shoes sold to a local non-profit group whose mission includes environmental advocacy, conservation or education. Today marks the beginning of the program in our Patagonia Retail Stores and select Patagonia Footwear dealers across the United States.

    We piloted this program with a few retail partners last fall to help launch our minimalist Advocate moc co-branded with 1% for the Planet. Some of our retail partners are quite creative with their in-store displays like Jax Mercantile in Bellvue, Colorado (pictured), while others like Mountain Sports in Flagstaff, Arizona went all-out and produced a playful video to promote their program.

    To find a participating store near you, check out the Advocate Weeks microsite hosted by 1% for the Planet. We'll be adding to the list again in late July. Patagonia Retail Stores that carry footwear will run their Advocate program for the entire month of June and have selected local water-based organizations to support Our Common Waters.

    Please note: this program does not apply to online orders.

    Bean There: Tracking the Impacts of Coffee Growing

    ShimaharaEnviro_0029 One of the unique perks of working for Patagonia is the chance to leave, to participate in an environmental internship on work time. I chose to go to Guatemala to see how coffee is grown before it is exported for roasting. 

    I divided my time with two organizations involved with coffee farming in Latin America, Coffee Kids and the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center. I documented their work through photography.

    My hope is that my work will serve as a tool to reinforce and foster positive change in the coffee industry.

    Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center
    (SMBC)

     To increase coffee production, coffee farms use synthetic fertilizers and convert from “shade grown” plantations, where shrubs are planted in the shade of trees, to “sun grown,” where coffee plants grow quickly, fully exposed to heat in fields. 

    [My work lead me to Finca Nueva Armenia, nestled in the Sierra Madre valley of Huehuetenango, one of only eight farms designated as bird friendly by the SMBC in Guatemala. All photos: Mark Shimahara]

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    Liquid Courage and Beer Goggles: Two New Runs at Valhalla Mountain Touring

    When she's not busy making us jealous about climbing in places like Greenland and France, Patagonia Climbing Ambassador Jasmin Caton guides folks to some of British Columbia's choicest snow-covered gems with Valhalla Mountain Touring, a business she owns and runs together with her husband. Today she brings us a delightful story about some fresh turns recently made with one of the coolest ski partners a person could ask for. - Ed

    Liquid6

    The day had gone so well, maybe that was the problem. My Mum was up at Valhalla Mountain Touring to visit and ski while I worked as the lodge custodian for a self-guided group. I had had my eye on an unskied couloir for the whole season, and stability and weather were looking good, so I figured we'd ski it together since it didn't appear steep or difficult. Just a pretty rock-lined narrow powder run in a beautiful setting. As I parked us on the exposed ridge that leads into the run, my Mum started having second thoughts. "Hey Jas, I need some liquid courage" she said, laughing. I passed her a beat up brandy-filled chocolate from the bottom of my trail mix bag and she washed it down with some black tea from her small thermos (she doesn't drink water while out ski touring) and was ready to rip.

    [First run of the day - some powder turns to warm up for the goods. All photos: Jasmin Caton]

    Continue reading "Liquid Courage and Beer Goggles: Two New Runs at Valhalla Mountain Touring" »

    On the Road with Solitaire, Episode 3 - The Raptor

    The third in a series of posts from Nick Waggoner and the crew at Sweetgrass Productions. They're currently hard at work on their third movie, Solitaire. Cleanest Line readers are invited to join them on their journey to produce their most ambitious film to date.This third installment from their behind-the-scenes series focuses on the crew's attempts to balance their desire for a compelling aerial image with their commitment to eschew motorized assistance in the filming process. Look for monthly updates here on TCL shortly after they appear on the Sweetgrass website, scheduled for the 21st of each month . - Ed

    On the Road with Solitaire Episode III: The Raptor from Sweetgrass Productions on Vimeo.

    From the Sweetgrass crew:

    Helicopters have never been part of our fiber. Beyond the economics of flying such expensive birds, we've never wanted our work to be about the noise or the fuel. If a method actor stays up all night before a shoot to play the part of an exhausted character, we feel the need to "walk the walk" up mountains to make films that feel true to our style.

    For us, faster is not always better, and it's the experiences and the time spent going up that ultimately flavor the final film.

    For years, filmmakers have shot aerial footage from helicopters and planes, and as we prepared for a trip to Peru's Cordillera Blanca last June, we wanted to try something different. So we took to the air with paragliding wings for a month, hiking through many nights, and taking huge gasps of air as we attempted a launch from over 18,000 feet.

    So light your mattress on fire, settle down with a nice slaughtered guinea pig, and enjoy Episode III.

     

    Mining the Grand Canyon - Speak Out to Protect Our Common Waters by May 4

    [Video: Grand Canyon Uranium Mining PSA from James Q Martin Media.]

    Take_action_large Patagonia's new Our Common Waters campaign speaks out on threats to freshwater across the U.S., including those affecting the Colorado River. We posted on uranium mining near the mighty Colorado in February, urging citizens to stop uranium mining from areas surrounding the Grand Canyon and the Colorado River in Arizona by sending letters to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and the Arizona BLM. The comment period has been extended to May 4, 2011 so if you have not been able to send in a letter, please find a sample below. Print out your customized version of the letter, and send it today to the address(es) provided. Or, send an email to the address below. -Thanks, Ed.

    Uranium mining threatens the Grand Canyon

    The Grand Canyon, the crown jewel of our National Park system, has been increasingly threatened by mineral development in recent years. Most, if not all, of these claims are for uranium.

    Uranium mining can impact soil, ground and surface water, often leaving radioactive devastation that can last for years. Thousands of claims surround the river in Arizona. It will only take one blunder to contaminate the main stream, and put endangered fish and human communities that rely on the Colorado River at risk.

    Continue reading "Mining the Grand Canyon - Speak Out to Protect Our Common Waters by May 4" »

    Anniversary of the BP Gulf Spill 7 Weeks, 7 Communities, 70 Employees

    IMG_5631 Patagonia hadn't budgeted for the  disaster of last year's Gulf oil spill (The Deepwater Horizon well blew up on April 20, 2010), but circumstances there were dire, so our CEO tapped Patagonia vice presidents to look for discretionary money.

    The VPs came up with $300,000 above and beyond our budgeted environmental giving. Two-thirds of it went to emergency funding that was divided among the Louisiana Bucket Brigade and Skytruth among others. The other third paid for seven groups of 10 Patagonia employee volunteers to spend a week in the Gulf working in seven different communities.

    The first group of employees arrived in Louisiana amid a July 2010 swelter to work with the Louisiana Bucket Brigade. Six more groups followed over the next two months.

    The Bucket Brigade wanted to document impacts from the spill because of a lesson learned in Alaska, after the Exxon Valdez tarred Prince William Sound with 10.8 million gallons of oil. Lacking really detailed information about the impacts of that disaster, it had been harder to recover damages from the oil giant for affected residents and resources.

    Our employees walked door-to-door in communities across southeastern Louisiana’s coastal parishes surveying residents about the public health, cultural and financial impacts they’d felt from the spill.

    [Above - Jackie Hickman from our Reno, Nevada, distribution center, knocking on doors in Dulac, LA. Photo: Jim Little]

    Continue reading "Anniversary of the BP Gulf Spill 7 Weeks, 7 Communities, 70 Employees" »

    Good vs. Honesty in the Mortenson Debate

    Kc - hushe area school 295 I’ve long had this idealistic notion that the ends don’t justify any means. It’s why I’m a stickler for truthful reporting of climbs. The half-truths, clever omissions and misrepresentations we sometimes see – and I learn about too often in my work – are just different forms of lying, and for what? If you can’t be honest about climbing, what else in life do you lie about?

    But who cares…it means little – unless, on a fundamental level, we think that truth matters. I think that it does.

    So what, then, if someone is dishonest – or just inept – and they serve a greater good?

    60 Minutes recently aired a damning indictment of Greg Mortenson, the Nobel Peace Prize-nominated humanitarian who founded the Central Asia Institute. The Institute has educated tens of thousands of young children, mostly girls, in rural and grossly neglected regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Mortenson, a former climber, started his organization after a failed attempt on K2 in 1993, when, he claimed, Pakistani villagers helped nurse him back to health and he promised to return and build a school. 60 Minutes and Jon Krakauer – author of a 75-page article, Three Cups of Deceit (How Greg Mortenson, Humanitarian Hero, Lost His Way) – allege significant fabrications in Mortenson’s best-selling book, Three Cups of Tea, and its follow-up, Stones Into Schools. Worse are the allegations of serious financial mismanagement, including a woefully low percentage of CAI’s proceeds actually going to schools, and large sums being spent on publicity and travel for Mortenson’s books and speaking engagements, for which he, not the CAI, receives the proceeds.

    [Above: A Central Asia Institute school along the road to Hushe, Northern Areas, Pakistan. Photo: Kelly Cordes]

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