As a transplant from the Coast, I’ve been missing my water fix. Now that the weather has turned nice here in Portland, it’s finally time to get back out there. My favorite water craft is the standup board I brought with me from the beach. It’s the perfect combination of workout device and pleasure craft. I’m sort of surprised that there aren’t more people out there on these things.
On a recent trip to connect my 80 year old father-in-law with the Grand Canyon for the first time, I came away with a unexpected realization…while our lives may be short in the bigger scheme of things, our impact can still be great.
Contrasting an 80 year lifetime to the 2 Billion year old layers of rock at the bottom of the canyon, you immediately get a sense of how short our time is on this wonderful planet. Yet it was just 26 years ago in 1983 that the Glen Canyon Dam almost spilled over as Lake Powell had reached “full pole” and water needed to be released to allow the Colorado River to flow into the Sea of Cortez for the last time to-date. Lake Powell is now estimated to be less than 50% full. And while drought has contributed some to this trend, the vast majority of the depletion is a result of exponential growth in demand
Our friends at Teva teamed up with our hero Wade Davis (and frequent guest at our Telluride Mountainfilm event) to release the recent Imax film River at Risk documenting the challenges this beautiful river faces after spending its lifetime carving one of the planet’s most spectacular natural monuments.
The optimist in me says we can reverse this trend by just paying more attention to the water we use everyday. I recently learned that one of the largest impacts on energy and water in the clothing chain was customer care. Reducing the number of washes, hang drying and applying efficient practices to care can reduce impact by upwards of 30-40%. So we are on a mission to promote lower impact care requirements and practices. And we can also take shorter and fewer showers and reduce usage in many other obvious ways in our daily lives.
So let’s fill Lake Powell back up and spill the Glen Canyon dam by 2040!
This weekend Portland will be graced with a visit from the Ginger Ninjas a band founded by Kipchoge Spencer, who is also one of the co-founder’s of the incredibly cool bike-bits company, Xtracycle.
The Ginger Ninjas are on the road with their “Pleasant Pedal Revolution,” riding to their tour locations, hauling their equipment on Xtracycle bikes (hard-tail frames converted into burly long-tail cargo-carrying bikes), and powering their mics and amps by the pedalling force of volunteers from the audience. Their stop in Portland is a last-minute switch, so they’re looking for places to play over the weekend.
As Jonathan Maus writes on the Bike Portland blog, “Last year they loaded up for a 5,000 mile journey from Northern California to Mexico City — nearly 100% human powered and with all their music gear in tow.” Cool.
Last week we spent some time out of the office to establish our priorities for the coming year and refine our 5-year vision for the family of brands (Nau, Lizard Lounge, and Horny Toad). Being committed to creating value in the broader sense, balanced between social, environmental and financial impacts creates an energizing environment for innovation and inspiring possibilities.
But the reality is that we also have to be practical and somewhat prudent in the challenging economic climate of today so some of those great ideas might not have had a chance to surface or fully develop. So I thought it would be enlightening to broaden the dialogue to our community of enthusiastic product and brand fans.
So here is my first of many Questions of the Month…
What is your favorite aspect of our company and what should be our top priority for improvement?
I will respond and comment on submissions to provide a window into our efforts to address your suggestions. I look forward to your thoughts.
We had an Earth Day gathering a couple weeks ago and introduced what we call the “Willing Wall.” We asked our friends to answer a question; What are you willing to do to that will create positive change? Turns out, there is a direct relationship between what people are willing to do and how much organic vodka they consume. Here are a few of the PG-13 pledges for positive change:
I will do more local travel.
I will always use biodegradable doggie bags.
I will stop showering alone.
I will join a CSA.
I will drink more organic beer.
I will not take tissue paper when I shop.
I will release less methane.
I will plant some trees.
While these aren’t necessarily new mind blowing ideas, I like having the Willing Wall here in the office. It’s a nice visual connection between our small changes and the bigger community of people working toward the same goal and having fun along the way.
So the question is; what are YOU willing to do to create positive change this year?
Being reminded what is important in life often comes at the most unexpected times.
That was my experience last Tuesday as I flew from my home in Santa Barbara (Horny Toad) to Portland, Oregon (Nau & Lizard Lounge) when a terrible fire broke out. I found myself on the phone as I landed talking my wife and two daughters through the list of “important” things to grab as they evacuated our house as the fire was turning our community upside down.
Getting back into our home this weekend with a new found appreciation for what really matters, I came up with the following:
Of course family, friends and pets can never be replaced and it sure feels great to have them all safe and sound.
Memories in the form of pictures, videos and those amazing art projects for Birthdays and Father’s Day will come in handy when the brain slows with age.
Community…firefighters and civil servants are true heroes and we all stand a bit prouder at how our neighbors supported each other through a very trying week.
Our team of Toads, Nauians and Loungers…from sharing in our star customer service Manager’s wedding on Saturday with ashes falling to getting right to work on a benefit concert and product donation plan for victims and firefighters, it was nice to be reminded we really do have a Family of brands.
And in the interest of full disclosure, during a reflective afternoon of surf with my wife and two girls yesterday, I decided holding on to a few toys that make life a fulfilling adventure is probably a good idea as well.
During the last 3 years since we launched the Thought Kitchen, this is the 11th post that was either inspired by Worldchanging or about something they’re working on. Clearly, we love them and what they’re up to, so it’s no surprise someone else does too.
Worldchanging was challenged to raise $100,000 this spring. If they reach their goal, this mystery (and generous!) challenger will match it with an identical grant.
They’ve reached the home stretch and will launch a charitable auction on Ebay that will run from Friday, May 8th at 10am PDT through Friday, May 15th at 10am PDT on Worldchanging’s Ebay Giving Works Page. Items up for bid include conference tickets to six of the top ideas and design conferences, products from socially and environmentally responsible retailers, a nature inspired travel expedition, and a private walking tour of the California Academy of Sciences.
I can’t remember the last time I came across such positive and generous news about fundraising. It speaks loudly to the quality of the organization and of their idea’s that really are changing the world.
Last week I was on the road to NYC for a media event and Freeport, Maine to visit our store. It was great to get out and see how Spring was shaping up and I have to say the warm weather seems to be injecting some enthusiasm and hope that the worst is behind us.
A couple of thoughts come to mind about where we are as May begins…
In the category of Resilience…It was nice to see our population not flinch as the 24/7 media (and our Vice President) tried to scare us with the swine flu story. I was in packed airports and airplanes all week and lived to tell about it.
Growing Confidence, we may not be completely out of the woods yet but it is noteworthy that the stock market has steadily increased in the last month. It appears the first 100 days of our new Administration have established the potential of our country’s economic future in green technology and alternative fuels.
Opportunity…how about a 50:1 Kentucky Derby winner that comes from last to first in the final turn. Score one for the “anything is possible if you dream big” category!
The Thought Kitchen is our effort at collective inquiry and its power to effect change. Have you ever noticed how the party is always in the kitchen? There are more walls to lean on and people are energized by the proximity to food and drink. Well, welcome to our kitchen, where we hope to tap into everything we love about that feeling—community, vivacious exchange, food for thought.