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News

Sustainability is Survival

Stay Wild

Daily Lifestyle Survival Tips

Story by Justin “Scrappers” Morrison // @scrappers

“Soap bubbles are a metaphor for the impermanence and fragility of life. No two are identical, but all come from the same source.” –Marlies Plank // @marliesplank

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When my son Camper and I moved into our first apartment, we didn’t have any furniture, so we set up our dome tent in the living room, rolled out our sleeping bags, and dreamt of how our new life would look. The next day, we began gathering driftwood from the beach, salvaging scrap wood from neighborhood dumpsters and logs from yard debris piles. We made book shelves and tables out of logs and planks. We stood four driftwood branches up on end to reach the ceiling. From those driftwood legs, we built a two-story tree fort in the living room; the first story was a couch that folded out into our bed, and the top story was a kid-sized playroom full of vintage Japanese monster toys and comic books. Then we filled the room with plants, colorful buoys, surfboards, skateboards, and a crazy cat that sharpens his claws on the logs all day long. Right now, as I type, blood is drying from the latest sharp clawed attack. 

Camper and I filled our apartment with the natural resources we could reach out and touch. We didn’t buy any new furniture. When we’re done with this furniture, we can take it back to the beach or have a nice campfire. This is what sustainability looks like for us. This is what survival looks like for us. This is what loving our home looks like.

This planet is our home and I’ve tried to create a lifestyle that will help us survive here. I know Camper wants the same thing, too. I’ve seen it in the way he cringes when we drive by a road-killed squirrel. He knows that squirrel would be alive, barking, and flicking its tail at us from a tall tree if people didn’t drive everywhere. So we don’t drive everywhere. We bike, skate, and walk instead. Daily lifestyle choices can help us stay afloat without causing harm while we’re here. 


Ride a bike or skateboard. It’s good for your body and it’s good for the environment. If your job or school is too far to ride, if it’s a drive you make everyday, then move closer and ride. Leave the machines that run on oil wars and death behind. Camper wants me to drive him to school sometimes when it’s raining, but we walk together instead and it’s way more fun. 


Shop local. Transporting goods from far away causes more pollution than transporting goods from across town. Go to the farmer’s market, join a CSA, or just try to buy food made close to home. We apply this local-mindedness to clothing, books, art, bikes, sunglasses, bathroom fart spray, and all the other things we shop for. This magazine you’re holding was made using locally grown paper in Portland, Oregon.


More quality, less quantity. Invest in quality goods that last longer and are made sustainably. Support companies that are socially, ethically, and environmentally friendly. 


Wash and reuse bags. We all have canvas tote bags, but sometimes you forget it and end up with a plastic bag full of kale. Sure you can recycle the plastic bag, but if you washed and reused it a couple times before recycling it that would be better. The PB&J I put in Camper’s lunch box goes into a ziplock bag that’s been washed like 60 times and it still looks new. 


Don’t make trash. The plastic chip bag, the paper towel, the bottle cap, and the paper coffee cup thrown away are still here. There is no away, but there is a way to avoid making trash. Buy things that have less packaging; fill reused bags in the bulk food section with snacks instead of buying a bag of chips, use a washable cloth towel instead of a paper towel, bring your own coffee cup to the coffee shop, and refill a growler instead of buying a bottle. When Camper was two years old, we moved to Maui and I told him there were no diapers on the island. He hasn’t made a dirty diaper since!


Pick up trash. We are the people of this planet, and therefore all the trash here is ours to pick up. That granola bar wrapper on the trail, the plastic cup washing up on the beach, that wad of fishing line on the riverbank — it’s all ours to pick up. Camper and I even pick up trash on our neighborhood walk to the market.


Reuse toilet paper. Just kidding. That would be gross. But seriously, try to use less shit tickets! 


Don’t abuse electricity. Camper recently learned at school that the hydroelectric dam that powers our apartment killed 95 percent of the salmon population when it was built. Now he tells me to turn the light off when I leave a room because of the salmon. Our appetite for energy is the greatest cause of global warming, so let’s stop it already! Turn the lights off and use natural sunlight and candles. Turn the air conditioner and heater off. Take responsibility for your body temperature. If it’s hot, take clothes off. If it’s cold, put more on. Turn your computer and phone off. Use solar, wind, and other alternative energy sources. You can charge your phone with a small solar panel aimed at the kitchen window. Let’s unplug from this pollution-causing system. 


Value time over money. Money makes us do things we know are wrong. Time gives us the freedom to see that.


Repair your goods. Let’s pretend we’re all out of new things and have to reuse everything. My bike tube needs a patch, not a whole new tube. The cobbler repairs my shoes — I don’t throw them away. Camper’s new shorts are his old pants. 


Tend the garden. We are the only animals on the planet who can restore natural places after destroying them. So it’s kind of our natural talent to remove invasive plants like ivy and blackberry that crowd out and kill native plants that feed native bugs and birds. 


Be kind to animals. Don’t eat them. Industrialized meat production is the sickest example of how we have removed our lifestyles from real natural systems. I’ve taken Camper fishing and crawdad hunting at the lake for years. The more we go, the clearer he understands that making meat involves killing another living creature. The last time he caught a trout, he cried and wanted it to live. So we set it free. Now when we catch crawdads we just play with them and set them free.


Don’t make more mouths to feed. As a daddy, I totally get why we want to have kids, but kids become people and overpopulation is killing the planet.                             


Protest & vote. It’s a good way to tell the rich bastards that they suck and we fucking hate being treated as cash crops for their greed. Broken political systems don’t fix themselves. We the people have to fix them if we truly hope to survive.


Be nice. It doesn’t take much effort to care about people beyond yourself. Kindness will help us survive each other. When you pass me and Camper on the sidewalk, we’re going to say, “Hi.” Please say “Hi” back. I’m trying to teach this kid that it’s a normal thing to care about others. 

Arbor X Hablak

Stay Wild

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Artist & Tattooer Henry Hablak makes art inspired by ancient myths, anthropology, history, and classic salty city stuff. His work is bad-ass and we're really stoked to see it grace the surface of a new line of art boards by our friends at Arbor Collective

Check out the video below and get inspired!

Score a board here >>>

FURTHER

Stay Wild

Rising above the void on a bicycle

 

Story by Ginger Boyd // @sleepyatfunerals

Photography by Tracy L Chandler // @tracylchandler

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"But to be part of the treetops and the blueness, invisible, 

the iridescent darknesses beyond,

               silent, listening to

                 the air becoming no air becoming air again."

                                       -Frank O’Hara, Three Airs

 

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To my right, a sheer white rock face stretched upwards and out of sight. To my left, a wall of a different kind: thick white fog that hid the long drop below, just barely visible in the not-quite-dawn hour. I was snaking along a road strewn with fallen rocks and cracked pavement, constantly scanning the ground and changing course to avoid puncturing the skinny tires of my bicycle. The few riders who accompanied me had surged ahead, picking up the pace to ward off the quickly dropping temperature, and I was alone, my legs beginning to acknowledge the 20,000 feet they had climbed so far. Suddenly, I was ripped from the line I was following and into some gravel on the uneven road; a blast of wind whipped my face raw and I hunched over, trying to continue my pedal strokes. The wind wailed, carrying with it my yelp of surprise, and off it went down the mountain so quickly I wasn’t sure I had made a sound at all. The curtain of mist that had floated harmlessly began to billow and eddy, spiraling into a fast-moving cloud. I was surrounded, absorbed by a cloud — my breath, gone. My body, forgotten. I waded through millions of water droplets suspended in mid-air like pearls, skin pricked by each tiny fleck, until the cloud cloak unraveled around my shoulders, continued on towards the peak, and left me exposed again, witness once more to the jagged rocks that make this section of road impossible for cars to pass. Back to the task at hand; I’m not done climbing yet. 

This closed stretch of road connects Route 39 to Highway 2 in the Angeles Crest National Forest, a national monument just North of Los Angeles comprised mostly of the San Gabriel Mountains. In Los Angeles and the sprawling suburbs that surround it, vestiges of dead rivers haunt the neighborhoods they define; flat ranch homes spread out ever further along flat land, until the massive range crests abruptly from the valley, walling off the basin on the North side. Hulking, blue, and hazy, the mountains watch. Disinterested monoliths, they stand high and seem to mock miniature freeway traffic, your conference call, your personal brand. They occupy (literally) a different plane, a separate atmosphere. They hold storms in their bosom, casting entire cities in the uneasy glare of bated breath, waiting for a drop of rain that never comes. 

Formed by a massive uplifted fault block, the San Gabriel range vaults up from sea level to 10,000-foot peaks in a matter of miles, making the climbs steep and the presence of the mountains ominous. The fault that ripped upward and drew these mountains out of nothingness does not exist on the eastern side, making the decline from the peaks to the dry, red Mojave Desert beyond a gentle slope, like an inverted check mark.

Those steep canyons on the south side of the range are short but dramatic in their transformation. As the foothills begin to climb the mountains appear as from a desert: warm, golden, and sandy they rise, dotted with cacti and yucca. But as the elevation leaps to 4,000 feet, the unforgiving landscape is replaced almost shockingly with the hospitable presence of evergreens. So radical is the change you might forget you began the day in Los Angeles, as the trees begin to rise around you and the sounds of creeks and waterfalls trickle in from just out of sight. Here, where the seasons visit Southern California and the world feels transformed, is where we found ourselves one weekend in October, riding bikes for 22 hours and just trying to survive. 

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It’s funny to think of survival in this way: self-imposed, even melodramatic. And sure, logically I knew that this was not a fight for life and death. At any point, I could return to warmth and shelter and just stop riding. I could call an Uber. The point, though, is that when you take on a challenge that’s incredibly hard and that you are not sure you can finish, you decide not to crawl back to safety. No, I was not fighting for my life in a literal sense. But I was standing on the edge, straddling some precipice of what I can do and what I can’t, and trying desperately to simply stand there, without fear. 

So why does one decide to try to ride their bike for 22 hours? To climb upwards of 20,000 feet when there is no real goal, no glory, no finish line? Besides the guarantee of misery, there is always that faint gleam of possibility. A flickering light that cannot be ignored, of learning something about yourself when you approach that dark place, enter it, wallow in it and eat it up and surround it and cradle it … Of what happens when you find yourself creeping up on the edge of some place you’ve often tiptoed around for fear of falling in. 

This particular void is not new to me. I’ve been toeing that line for as long as I can remember, as a woman at constant odds with the urge to self-destruct. That delicious, satisfying temptation to pull the plug on it all, watch the world burn as they say, that blasé, that commonplace, that constant pull towards nothingness — to make people hate you, to hurt those you love, to make the world around you and the people you love and the feelings in your own body as disgusting and painful as you can. 

For many years I found myself operating most often at some boundary between what I was supposed to do, the everyday goings on with which everyone seemed content, and the visceral desire for nothingness, that black void that seemed to live inside my gut — a constant and sometimes painful pulling inward. The awareness of the absurdity of the every day (falling prey to that inevitable if cliché obsession with existentialism so common to adolescence) coupled with the inability to get past the deep pit of sadness that started within my body and seemed to bleed outward ever further until it covered every surface I could see or touch, created a mode of living which seemed impossible to continue. The oft-used metaphor that depression feels like you are operating under deep water, moving in slow motion and working harder than necessary to complete even the most mundane tasks, is not wrong. Though I didn’t feel I was the only one dragging my way through waist-deep water (on some days) or water far above my head (on others) while those around me moved quickly and easily through thin air. It seemed that everyone I encountered (and would ever encounter) was too moving through thick molasses, was too battling each day the insatiable hunger for vacuity: the impulse to slide deeper, to drown.

When I turned inward, I saw darkness … like an empty parking lot of cracked pavement with bits of trash drifting through, floating, just there. The charade I had been signed up to play (without ever having been asked) just seemed too much and too badly put on. I could see the boom hanging just off screen. 

This game, too big even to wrap my brain around, is what creates the temptation to run the opposite direction. It’s what makes living (untreated by whatever self-medication you choose) so fucking hard. It makes you itchy, makes your skin crawl, your hair hurt, your eyelids burn. So you drink. Or you have sex with the most repulsive creep you can find. Or you snort shards of glass from a broken vial in a public toilet stall. When what’s inside you seems worse than anything you could put in, there are no limits. See your own blood and you might look down, surprised, because you thought it would be thick black tar. 

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But in the face of a massive, larger than life, magnificent heft of rock, formed by the painful wrench of a tectonic plate from its brother millions of years ago, you are infinitesimally small. So I climb. In that calming, sublime range that looks down like a god on Los Angeles, I climb and I scream and I cry into a hailstorm and no one can hear me.  I push on towards survival and it is an intense personal glory, though a quiet one. 

This is what I’m here for. That intensity of experience, that invigorating breath of life that comes from toeing the edge, from bringing your body to the brink of what it’s capable of, shouting into the howling wind on the side of a mountain and savoring every sweet drop of that sheer potency like honey. Like the inside of a bag of cocaine. That welling up of despair when you are shivering so violently you cannot pedal and the simultaneous welling up of joy when your partner places a hand on your back, a silent I am here when those teary, sobby breaths catch in your throat like a punch to the gut. 

I ride a bike because if I did anything else it would kill me. 

I climb mountains to be reminded of the big earth and the hardness of rock and the insignificance of my worries. To combine pain with overwhelming beauty, wild freedom with tender intensity. To find myself looking down a cliff to a sprawling city below and the ocean beyond that and not feel tempted to jump. To wake up tomorrow and do it again, to go further, and feel everything from hopelessness to joy.