Welcome to Nau’s new monthly interview series. Here, we’ll interview the people whose bold visions and rebellious spirits have directly inspired our own. We’re starting with Justin “Scrappers” Morrison, who has been part of the Nau family since our beginnings in 2007, a visionary who has helped Nau get started on its way to becoming “the company that changed the outdoor industry.” Here, the Portland based dad, designer, artist and founder of the adventure magazine, Stay Wild, talks to us about the link between his magazine and Nau, and his drive to change things for the better.
Each interview will get warmed up with a set of rapid fire questions we put together that we’re calling the Fast Five. Here we go.
What do you miss right now?
Right now? I miss being a kid. I was riding the train home from downtown today and heard a child giggling uncontrollably while an old man across the aisle grumbled about money. I want to be more like that kid. I miss the giggles more than money.
What’s one thing you’d never forget to bring on a trip?
Gifts. I always end up meeting new people and they share things with me, so I try to be ready to share something back.
What are the three most beautiful words in the world to you?
Camper. Kindling. Outsider.
What are you currently listening to or reading?
Ozarks is spinning on the record player right now and I’m reading stories that have been submitted to Stay Wild’s next issue.
What does being sustainable mean for you?
It means not pulling so much water from the well that it dries out. It means not pooping in the well either, so you can drink from it.
Good work! That was fast. You need a breather? No? Ok, round two. Let’s get into it. Tell us how you came to know us at Nau? What do Stay Wild and Nau have in common?
In 2006 I was invited to join an experimental art/advertising school called the Wieden+Kennedy 12. There were 12 of us and we worked collaboratively using the world’s largest independent ad agency to make art. The launch of Nau was one of our first projects. I dove deep into the brand and the revolutionary movements it stood for: tasty sustainable lifestyle. I wanted Earth First protesters to wear Nau during tree sits, I wanted to turn shopping into protesting, and I wanted to help Nau become the company that changed the outdoor industry. But I started a magazine instead and Nau did change the outdoor industry without my help. I think the magazine and the clothing company make meaningful things for the same group of people. People who think outside of mainstream patterns.
You seem to be a constant student of each new environment, constantly engaged. You were in New Orleans recently. What did you learn there?
I went to New Orleans recently with my love Sera and we had the pleasure of meeting some new friends Alex and Gabby. These new friends are local to New Orleans and they showed us things that tourists don’t even get a glimpse of. From over their shoulders I saw how they flow through their lovely city interacting with everyone they come across. Alex stopped to talk with construction workers on the other side of chain link fences, he rapped with people experiencing homelessness, talked about water pollution with fancy restaurant workers, and actually spurred a dance party in the street. Being outside of my usual routine gives me perspective so I can learn new things. This adventure taught me to loosen up and take it easy with all the friendly people around. Monkey see monkey do, right? If I’m kind to you you’ll likely do the same for me.
You mentioned missing being a kid. What was funny to you as a kid? Has that changed?
Pee-pee and poo-poo jokes were funny as a kid and they still are. My 9 year old son Camper and I speak in fart sounds to each other. We play this game called “That’s not dog poop.” We just point at something like a pile of pinecones and say “That’s not dog poop.” It’s funny, but now I’m embarrassed for telling you about it.
Now that we’re on the topic, you said that being sustainable means not pooping in the well. I imagine Camper is learning this from. Though, now that there is a little poop in the well, what can we do about it?
For the record, I did not poop in the well. Some neighbors who don’t know any better did. So I think what we should do to keep it from happening again is to help them understand that there are better ways to live. There are less harmful lifestyle choices that can protect the well water. Sure, there are goods you can buy that don’t mess up the water, but buying better things is just one of many lifestyle choices that affect our environment. Stop driving everywhere! Try bike riding, skating, or using mass transit, or heck, give yourself enough time to walk there. Finding your own ways to keep the well water clean is a fun exercise, just try it.
Speaking of keeping the well water clean, the next issue of Stay Wild is all about water. What can we expect?
You’ll see lightweight stories about swimming holes, night surfing, skating storm drains, and heavyweight stories about rivers running dry and native people’s wisdom being ignored.
One of the things I’ve learned about while working on this issue is the native Hawaiian Ahupua’a system. It’s basically a natural resource management system that flows down the watershed. In the upper mountains where fresh water first touched the islands this area is a place for sacred reverence and pure intentions. As the water flows down into the farmlands it needs to stay pure because it’s used to grow kalo and all other sorts of food people eat. Then as the water reaches the ocean it still needs to maintain that purity because the run off will affect all ocean life and the people who are sustained by it. The Ahupua’a system is such a solid example of native intelligent lifestyle choices that we can all learn from as we decolonize the planet.
While we had Scrappers’ attention, we also asked him to curate the inaugural playlist for our Nau Mixtape on Spotify. Give it a listen—it’s a good one.