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Archive for December, 2012

Winter Respite: Oh, The Places We’ll Go

Posted by leighann | December 20th, 2012 | Filed under Design, Outdoor Sport, Travel

It’s dumping in the Cascades and there’s a blizzard heading for the midwest. Winter is here, my friends. And it’s a perfect time for our seasonal nod to cabin porn and the snowy escapes that help us find respite during the insanity of the holidays (and the end of the Mayan Calendar). Here’s a compilation of our favorite winter refuges. First stop: the Tin Hat Cabin.

Weekend Cabin: Tin Hat Cabin, British Columbia. Located on the midpoint of the Sunshine Coast Trail, a 180-kilometer route that runs roughly northwest-southeast along the Straight of Georgia (west of Whistler, people, east of Vancouver Island), and it was built just last year by a large and extended family of volunteers who make up the Powell River Parks and Wilderness Society. Courtesy of Adventure Journal

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Everyday Rhythm: The Music That Sustains Us

Posted by Guest | December 9th, 2012 | Filed under Music, Sustainability

Photos by Neil DaCosta

In this three-part blog series, Bowen Ames—our moonlighting Art Director—profiles three unique artists who use an unconventional approach to sustainability to live their art every day. In our first installment, Bowen interviews songstress Alela Diane who details her process of writing and producing her first independent album after years of being confined to a music label. 

Alela Diane is a seasoned a musician. Her music reflects her relationships and a deep connection to her forested home in Northern California. Her listeners, new and old, have always found the stark honesty of her voice incredibly striking. “I’ve always been my most honest in my song-writing,” remarks Alela. “When you write music from an honest place, people respond to it in heartfelt ways, “ she said. But recently, when faced with major changes in her personal and professional life, Alela made a surprising discovery; her songwriting held the key to the changes she needed to make in order for her life and her creative process to be more sustainable.

It was a process that culminated with her last album, Alela Diane & The Wild Divine, which featured her then husband and collaborator Tom Bevitori as well as her father, Tom Menig and was backed by a full band. The recording process, guided by a producer through her label Rough Trade, brought with it a new sound, energy and image. They went on tour across the US and Europe and opened for The Fleet Foxes. But it was a distinct change from her earlier solo-work. For Alela, she was no longer just a girl with a guitar.

While on tour in Europe, Alela began writing songs for her new album. She noticed that her songs were returning to their original confessional nature, and she was surprised to find she had a deep dissatisfaction with her life. “After I had written this new collection of songs, it became clear that I had to make changes in my life. The work itself told me what I needed to do.” she said. She knew she couldn’t just grin and bear it. If she did, it would mean a dwindling love for the music that sustained her. So Alela filed for divorce and turned to her friends and family for support as she underwent one of her hardest transitions.

This is when Alela began to think about building a future with music that sustained her. She decided to produce and record the album herself, this time employing her own intrinsic sense of what each song needed. She met with respected musicians for their input on her music rather than a producer or label. The album, tentatively titled About Farewell, features some of Alela’s finest work and offers the same stark realism with which she approached the passing year.

“All of these songs are about shifts in my life and how I’ve worked through them,” she said. “Oftentimes my songs inform me of what I need to do.  When that’s the case, I feel obliged to listen.”

Partners For Change: Unlimited and Unrestricted

Posted by Josie | December 2nd, 2012 | Filed under Environmental Change, Partners for Change, Positive Change

As the Managing Director of our Partners for Change program, I get the honor of handing over a hefty check to each of our five partners. Twice a year, I gather all of our final revenue numbers, calculate our final donations, and put a check in the mail with a card, signed by everyone in the office. Over the years, I’ve watched the running tally of our donations climb to several hundred thousand dollars.

I understand, first hand, the reality of our impact when I watch the presentations given by Mercy Corps field staff about the work they’re doing to solve the hunger crisis in the Horn of Africa or when I hear Obama reference Breakthrough Institute’s research into the history of American clean energy innovation.  Every person at Nau and our sister company Horny Toad would agree with me when I say: We whole heartedly believe that it’s our responsibility as a for-profit company to support the NGO’s that are creating positive change in the world.

Yet every time we make a donation, I am reminded that all donations are not alike. Every time I talk to our partners, they all say the same thing; “receiving unrestricted funds is critical to the success of our organization.” Our Partners for Change rely heavily on donations from companies like us and people like you to reach their milestones. Unfortunately, a large portion of the money they receive is restricted, meaning it can only be spent on specific projects, and it can not be used for every need of an organization–like electric bills or new technology. As Dan Pallota, non-profit advocate and author of Charity Case, said, “Low overhead is not the path to transformation of society.”

So this holiday season, when you donate, I encourage you to give unrestricted and empower the NGO’s that are truly creating positive change in this world.