Wednesday, July 25, 2007

We WON!!!

As an update to my post on the Prana merchandising contest - I wanted to let you know that from hundreds of entries from across the US, our Wind Over Water display was chosen as the third place winner!

I have to say that even though it seems cool to say it doesn't really matter, it was fun to be named in the winners circle. When I read the email to Amy, Loren, Becky and Jamie, everyone was running around yelling and high fiving. It was really fun.

I guess what was the most fun was to see the team come together and create something better than what any one of us could have acheived on our own - and then have it recognized. Wow. I wish every day could be like that.

If you haven't been by yet to check it out - drop in when you get a chance and see our (AWARD WINNING) display!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Fragile - Handle with Care!

Last week, Becky and I attended a family reunion in New Mexico. While there, we had the opportunity to take an interpretive tour of the Pecos National Historic Park. Our tour guide painted a picture in our minds of what this area was like when the native americans lived there for literally thousands of years. The area was beautiful, the way their culture fit into the landscape was ingenious and how they lived was inspiring.

What made me think was how fast all of this was lost. After thousands of years of successful living, this culture was dispersed and obliterated within 50 years of the Europeans arriving in the area. I left feeling a little down, thinking about how quickly everything in life can change. Cultures, families, ecosystems, species. All of these can change and even be lost in the blink of the eye of time. The answers I am not sure of. I guess that my thought is that we must as thinking humans respect the things that have been here since before we were. Try to create as little change as possible - especially when we are doing so to satisfy our own selfish desires. I know maybe that this seems a little preachy - but I am sure that the Spanish didn't think about what would be lost with their effect on these beautiful lands. Maybe we can try to do a little better.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Wookie Wisdom

Hi Pack & Paddle Folks,
I am posting a trail journal entry from a Hiker with the trail name, Tha Wookie. In this entry, Tha Wookie (AKA Nate Olive) journals about something Becky and I thought of many times on the AT, but had trouble putting into words. Nate has hiked the AT, the PCT and was the first to hike the entire west coast from Canada to Mexico:


July 5th
It was interesting to me that in all this solitude and distance from any town that I should meet a southbound section hiker who knows me from the internet. It has happened before, out in the hills of Georgia and then in Southern California, but neither were as a remote a location.

We paused in a mosquito-slapping descent into Cascade Valley to meet Kent, who told us of his readings online to keep up with this year's hikers. "Beats work", he said. Indeed. But it doesn't beat going out and doing it yourself. We were happy to see someone doing both. As for work, it sometimes saddens me to come across those who believe that they are somehow obligated to trade their freedom for the duty demanded by the protestant/corporate so-called "ethic".

I certainly can't speak for anyone but myself, and some really need the money for child support or perhaps to pay medical bills for a loved one, but more often it comes down to choice. I say this because so many we meet attribute our good fortune of life to "luck". "Wow! You're hiking to Canada (or Main, or Durango, or across Athens, etc.)! You are lucky!" True, we are lucky. We were born into supportive families. But as much as they nurtured and educated us, they did not put us on this trail. We've made choices -- sacrifices -- to get where we are. We did not float here on a magic Tyvek groundsheet. We are free, but not of reality. The fact that we hike is our choice.

If it was baseball, we'd be heros and respected for our "work ethic". It's ironic that "work" is only considered to be when one is paid. Then truly, we both worked to afford the trek. One of the things I did was sit in the forest and administer Forest Service interviews to visitors. Now I walk 20+ miles a day, and it is considered a vacation by some. Perhaps the common notion of "work" really is that which robs ones mental freedom. Then I suppose we ought to be compensated for watching the Tee-Vee.

The truth is that while people look me in the eye and say, "That's my dream. That's what I want to do", or maybe they had some other "fantasy" they claim to wish to live, they really don't mean it. They claim to desire freedom, but what they'd rather have is perceived security. Or maybe a car. Or a house. Or maybe a garden. Those are their choices, and mine are mine.

Freedom is not just found in the wilderness. Can a man not be free in all his endeavors, even when he profits by them? It is time we are held accountable for our choices in life. This planet is suffering severely because so many Americans refuse to do so. The economy did not make us nor will it break us. What will break us is not just when we only look out for ourselves (we're past that), but when we start looking out for those who distract us from our dreams. Don't sit there with a Big Mac and a lottery ticket and tell me about your aspirations. Instead, be like Kent, and send me a postcard.

In the meantime, I'll be in my office. Tha Wookie


I have planted this journal entry in our Blog for another reason. We have arranged for Nate to be our first major speaker when we open our new room at the end of September. Mark your calendars for September 29th for a very special evening of incredible photography, great stories and original live music that will bring you into the Thru Hiking world of Tha Wookie.

Friday, July 13, 2007

The Power of Wind

A few weeks ago we received an invitation to compete in a merchandising contest for one of our clothing brands. Prana is having a contest to see what store can create the best display of their products. I started talking to Amy on our staff about what we could do that would be interesting. We wanted to do something that would tie in with Louisiana and still connect with the Prana brand. We let it simmer for a while and when the deadline started getting close, we finally had a breakthrough.
We had just seen the movie "Wind Over Water" at our Sierra Club Film Fest movie night. This movie outlines the effort (and problems) associated with creating a wind farm around Cape Cod. Amy remembered talking to Harold Schoeffler about a similar effort here in Louisiana where abandoned offshore oil rigs could be fitted with wind turbines to create electricity. Since Prana has a large effort in all things green, we thought it would be a great tie in to the Prana brand from an environmental standpoint.
We started off thinking of printing out some pictures of oil rigs and wind turbines and creating some signs around our displays. About the time we were stagnating a little, the power of community (and holding the strings loosely) kicked in. All of our staff members got involved: Loren said "how about if we make a model of a wind turbine on an oil rig out of scrap lumber?" He spent parts of several days creating a really cool wind turbine out of an old display fixture and some scrap wood we picked up at a cabinet shop. Kristen painted a mural to go behind the turbine that helped to make it show up and added a really artistic flair to the project. Jamie found quotes about wind power as well as Prana's approach to green energy as well as lots of graphics on oil rigs and wind turbines. Then Matt took the quotes that Jamie found and built some signage for the display. Amy took all the pieces and put them together into a final display. Today a friend who's a photographer is going to come and take pictures for us to turn in to Prana.
What started off as something we didn't really want to do has turned into a true community effort at our shop and we're really excited about the result. We're hoping for VICTORY over all the other sub-standard displays other shops from around the country will turn in. I guess whether we win or not - we had a great time as a group building this project and bringing something interesting and new to Lafayette through our shop. Come by and check it out when you get a chance!

Friday, July 6, 2007

Holding the Strings Loosely

We had a little bit of a curve ball yesterday. We were doing our usual run-around of working with our staff, moving ahead on projects, preparing for our film festival night and working on future booking orders (for next spring - believe it or not) for new products. Our architecht, Scott Shall, who is also a professor at UL came by to look at the progress. We have known for a few weeks that he will be leaving in order to take a position at a university in Philadelphia. The curve ball came when we realized that he will be moving in 3-4 weeks. Aaagh. Stress.

We've depended on Scott to work with us "on the fly" with this project. He reminded me that he will be able to work remotely and email us drawings from Philly. It's just that it still feels like we're in the infancy of this project. There's definitely no way to clearly see the end from where we are now. And our guide, our guru and to a large degree our leader is leaving in 3 weeks.

Now I am hanging on a single thought and concept: Hold the strings loosely, and things will turn out better than you could have imagined. Let things develop naturally, look for people and things that are put in your path and it will all work out. This is how we lived on the Appalachian Trail on a daily basis for 5.5 months. Even now, it's not my nature to live this way. I am still finding I have to keep my "Control Freak" inside at bay. And it's not easy. But I am trying.

I don't have a cute ending for you on this post. This is just an entry about where we are right now. And - I guess - that's kind of what life is pretty much like most of the time.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

The Value of a Lazy Day

Before hiking the Appalachian Trail last year, I don't think that I fully understood the value of a lazy day. Even though most people would call me laid back, I tend to be a pretty driven person. I like to have a project to sink my teeth into, a job to work on, a goal to accomplish. Even with 6 months of not being plugged in to what we referred to on the trail as "The Matrix" (real life), I still battle being sucked back in to that old mindset constantly.

Since today is the 4th of July, we're closing the shop and taking the day off. OH REALLY??? Yeah - I admit, we have a plan of riding our bikes to Girard Park to run, then going over to P&P to try to get on top of organizing our new office. Hmm... sounds like maybe I'm plugging back into that matrix more than I would like to admit.

I'm afraid that I don't have any words of wisdom on this. I like being goal driven. It makes me feel good to get something accomplished. But - being good at enjoying a lazy day seems to take just as much determination. Have some friends over. Enjoy a good book. Lay in a hammock. Quiet your "Matrix" self long enough to let the lazy magic begin to take effect.

So - On this national holiday, my hope is that you are having one (a holiday), that you are working on your "Lazy Skills", unplugging from the matrix and allowing life to take you where it wants to go.