Commentary

Commentary / 11.09.2010

Jarrow sat listening to NPR on the verge of tears. I didn’t care. I had a job to do. It was a beautiful fall day in Duluth, Minnesota. Two hours earlier I ran along the shoreline of Lake Superior. The cool breeze and the warm sun felt good on my skin. I was glad to be alive as I bounded up the stairs to my regular hotel room. I called it the Willy Lowman Suite at the Lake View Inn. Dripping with sweat I slammed through the door, grabbed the towel I’d set on a chair, flipped on the radio and headed to the bathroom for a shower. I was just about to turn the water on as sounds of mayhem came peeling through the report on “Morning Edition.” Something horrible had happened.
Commentary, Diversity, Outdoor Recreation, Outdoor Retailer, Summer / 03.09.2010

[caption id="attachment_3787" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="OR director Kenji Haroutunian (left) walks the show floor with DOI Sec. Ken Salazar"][/caption] After 20 years in the industry I can’t recall a cabinet level executive ever attending the Outdoor Retailer Show. Those with long standing memories may prove me wrong and I’ll stand corrected. But I believe that the address of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to the biannual Outdoor Industry Association breakfast meeting was a truly unique occurrence. His position in the Obama Administration not withstanding, Salazar’s visit to OR is important for other reasons. As a person of Hispanic ancestry and the direct representative of the first African-America president of the United States for the first time in our history, federal policy for the protection of our public land, air, water and natural resources is being guided predominately by people of color. Salazar brought with him a message from the White House that stands not only as a sign of a strong relationship between our industry and the U.S. Government, but it may also serve as a rare opportunity to finally bridge the divide between outdoor recreation and ethnic minorities in our country who fail access it.
Commentary / 14.06.2010

It just wasn’t going to happen. Shamane and I turned the newly built chair every-which-way, but there was no getting it up the stairs and through the narrow door from the basement.

“I hate to tell you this hun,” she said. “But I think you need to take the arms off.” My wife is every bit as smart as she is beautiful. Twelve years of marriage has taught me not to argue. Repeatedly muttering a single syllable expletive, I backed us down the steps and skulked over to my workbench. The precision Japanese handsaw I cherish would make quick work of this. After two solid weeks on an extended Joy Trip I spent my first Saturday at home building an Adirondack chair. The simple but classic design is a one-day project I could knock out in 8 hours from first cut to finish. The practice of woodworking is a wonderfully active meditation that frees the mind while transforming thought into reality. Ironically, the creation of this comfy lawn chair was a roundabout way of settling my overloaded brain to contemplate and then report on the many adventures I discovered in my recent travels.
Commentary, Gardening / 20.03.2010

Despite two inches of new snow overnight the spring growing season in Madison officially began today. The annual Eagle Heights Community Garden Seed Fair opened to a capacity crowd of hobby gardeners eager to till the soil in the warmer days yet to come.

“I am SO pumped for this!” said our plot mate Jennifer Harrington. “We’re gunna have SO much yummy produce.” My wife Shamane and I share a patch of land about two miles from our home with friends near the University of Wisconsin campus. More than 1,300 plots are available for area residents to grow a modest garden of vegetables or flowers. The cost is a mere $35 for the season. And local organizers during the fair provide an assortment of seeds free for the taking.
Commentary, philanthropy / 02.03.2010

For more than a year now it’s been my pleasure to bring you the stories behind the selfless causes of people trying to make the world a better place. The mission of the Joy Trip Project is to explore the lives of those who blend their passion for adventure with their desire to work for the benefit of others or toward the preservation of life on our planet. In my own way I hope that I have contributed to the success of their causes by bringing them to your attention and encouraging you to participate. So in the spirit of that mission I’m pleased to announce a new Joy Trip Project initiative. On August 29, 2010 I will join a small group of climbers to ascend the summit of Mount Fuji in Japan. Organized by the non-profit Love Hope Strength this event aims to raise money and awareness for the fight against cancer. Fuji Rocks! is the lasted in a series of climbs that feature a base-camp live music concert along with a drive to register new bone marrow donors to the national database of those willing to help a leukemia patient in need of a bone marrow transplant. It is my plan that with your help over the next five months The Joy Trip Project will raise $6,000 to $10,000 for this cause and register at least 1,000 new donors.
Commentary, Uncategorized / 24.02.2010

Jennifer Jones Austin is a complete stranger to me. But in the coming months you’re going to hear me talk a great deal about people just like her. At the age of 41 this mother of two is suffering from leukemia. Though with this serious form of cancer Jennifer’s prospects for survival will increase dramatically if she receives a bone marrow transplant. But first she needs a donor. A successful transplant requires a very specific tissue match. The most likely donor candidate will be a person who shares her genetic ancestry. Unfortunately, African-Americans represent only 2 percent of the pool of registered donors in the United States. The chances of Jennifer finding a match are quite low.