Posts Tagged With: Inspiration

Inspiration: Obe and Ashima

The other night I escaped our still-germy house and made it to our local showing of the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour. As always, I left feeling excited and energized about getting outside and trying something new. One of the short films we saw was a biopic by Sender Films about 9-year-old Ashima Shiraishi, a two-time American Bouldering Series junior national champion from New York City, and her coach Obe Carrion. Ashima is a gifted climber who astounds everyone who watches her. At one point in the film, Ashima travels to Heuco Tanks, Texas, a bouldering hotspot, and manages to climb a V11. The focus with which she tackles the problem stunned me and my fellow moviegoers. At just over four feet tall, she had to muster incredible creativity to think her way around problems that others managed to solve with a long reach or a dynamic move. This girl is powerful and inspiring. The clip above shows some of her most recent ABS competition.

Parental Advisory: In the first few seconds of this film there is a quick photo still of a young Obe flipping off the camera and the narration has a swear or two. If you want to show this video to your own young climber, just jump ahead to the 25 second mark.

Categories: Inspiration, School Age | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Extreme Teens: Jordon Romero

You may have heard of Jordon Romero-he’s the (then) 13 year old boy who summited Everest last May. He has a goal of summiting the highest mountains on each continent. So far, he’s racked up an impressive list of ascents in addition to Everest: Kilimanjaro at age 9, Elbrus and Aconcagua at 10, and Denali at 11. Now only one summit remains: Vinson Massif on Antarctica. He has faced criticism, most of which revolves around the idea that he is too young to attempt climbs at such altitudes, mainly because there is little research about the effects exposure to extreme altitudes has on children. I initially disapproved of it because I wondered if he was being pushed too hard by his parents, and was possibly in danger of being exploited by them. However, looking at his enthusiasm, it seems that he has grown to want this achievement very badly, and is the one pushing for the adventure to continue. I wish him luck.

jordonromero–seven summits

http://www.jordanromero.com/

Categories: Inspiration, mountaineering, Teens | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Inspiration: Preschool in the Forest

School In The Forest from dantv on Vimeo.

When we were looking for daycare for the Kiddo for when I go back to work in a month or so, one thing we tried to find was a center that had access to a great outdoor play area. Unfortunately, it seems that trees and walks in the woods aren’t really a key focus of daycare design. I have yet to find a center that has a playground with trees in it, let alone access to a garden. Most were clustered in shopping districts and business trade centers, surrounded by metal and cement, and with play yards carpeted with rubberized “safety” mulch. I know he will spend most of his days inside, and it breaks my heart to think of him tucked away in a stuffy room with a line of cribs and bouncers rather than taking walks outside in the fresh air and looking at the trees he loves so much. We’ll have to work overtime to make sure we get him outside in the evenings and weekends as much as possible.

I came across this video highlighting an outdoors-only preschool, and wish we had something like this in our area. Heck. I wish I had something like this when I was a kid. Cedarsong Nature School is located on Vashon Island, just off of Seattle Washington. The kids are outdoors all day, every day. They have a circle of stumps that serve as a meeting place, and create shelters out of tarps when it rains. Basically, they learn to play in the rain as well as the sun, and become intimately acquainted with the forest around them. The teachers help the kids learn to sharpen their observation skills and pay attention to the changes the ecosystem goes through over the course of the year. They play games, do art projects, tell stories, all the same things a kid does in a “regular” preschool. Except they have “handwarmer” baked potato snacks when it is cold outside. They also have a pretty long waitlist, which tells me that we need more programs like this in our country. Less rubberized safety mulch, more potato handwarmers.

Categories: Inspiration, Preschoolers | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Grubs, Roots and Shoots: Inspiration from Jane Goodall

Copyright © Jane Goodall Institute of Canada

I met Jane Goodall once. I was an eager student of anthropology and had been devouring every book on primates and paleoanthropology I could find, including all of Goodall’s work. Miraculously, she came to speak at my college, and I planned to skip out of my favorite class to hear her presentation. In the week leading up to her appearance, I busily wrote out all the questions I wanted to ask her, just in case there was a chance to talk one on one. I tried to come up with complex questions, not ones that just anyone off the street would ask, oh no; these would be questions that showed I not only read her books but could offer deep insight into her findings.  I was certain it would lead to a lively and stimulating exchange of ideas, and that this would be one of the better networking moments of my anthropological career.

When the presentation ended, I hurried to the back of the auditorium to line up for her book signing. Along with every other person there. The line wrapped around the room, and it became clear to me that I was going to have about 30 seconds to impress Dr. Goodall. I was doomed. My hands got clammy and started to shake. As my turn approached, all rational thought deserted my brain. I reached out with my sticky hand, and barely  managed to choke out a strangled, “I liked your book,” before receiving a cursory thank you and being guided away by the handlers. I had choked.

All of this has little to do with today’s post except to emphasize my long-standing science crush on Jane Goodall.

"Grub the Bush Baby" is the photo story of Jane's son's first two years in the forest at Gombe.

In 1967, Jane Goodall brought her months-old son into the field with her at Gombe in Tanzania. Her careful observation of the reserve’s chimpanzees had shown her that they hunted, and often killed the young of other primates in the area, and she was concerned about the safety of her young son. In order to protect him from both the chimps and the many other wild animals in the area, she built him a cage. Both she and her son slept in it at night, and though it was painted a cheery blue and decorated with birds and stars, she received heavy criticism from a number of people about her child rearing methods. But she always maintained that “Grub”, as she nicknamed him, had led an extraordinary childhood. She took her parenting cues from the chimpanzees she studied, and noticed that, “chimp mothers… that were affectionate and tolerant raised babies that had good adult relationships and were successful community members”(Quote from Jane Goodall by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallan).  She took six years away from direct fieldwork to raise him, and he accompanied her in her research travels around the countryside.

Grub grew up running around the forests and plains of Africa, and in the process learned firsthand the value of the wild creatures surrounding him even when they were a direct danger to his family. Goodall has since formed the Jane Goodall Institute, a nonprofit organization devoted to promoting humanitarian, environmental and animal protection efforts around the globe. As part of the institute’s efforts to reach out to youth, Goodall formed a  program to help children become actively involved in influencing the world around them. Roots and Shoots encourages youth-led campaigns to effect positive change in the three focus areas of the institute, and helps kids identify how they can make a difference. Anyone can form a Roots and Shoots group, and there are thousands of children now working on service projects related to the program. For folks looking to not only get their kids out into the woods but also teach them to preserve those things they love, this program seems like a great way to get started. You can search for local groups, or learn how to start your own here.

Categories: Infants, Inspiration, Outdoor Life, Toddlers, Wildlife | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Inspiration: The Chukchi Sea at Toddler Speed

        Erin Mckittrick isn’t afraid of a little hardship.  In 2007, along with her partner Hig, she travelled the 4000 miles from Seattle, Washington to the Aleutian islands, Alaska using only non-motorized transport. Pioneers of “packrafting”, they used small inflatable rafts to ferry themselves and supplies along the coast , and hiked or skied many thousands of miles through remote terrain to reach their goal. By the end of the journey, Erin discovered she was pregnant, and stage two of their adventurous life had begun.  The duo have a greater purpose than just adventure in their outings; they formed the nonprofit organization Ground Truth Trekking as a vehicle to bring awareness to critical environmental issues, and use their expeditions to visit and talk about habitat that is on the verge of being impacted by coal mining and other human endeavors.  For them, having children couldn’t stop their expeditions. Their larger goal was too important.
          In the summer of 2010, they spent a month travelling along the Chuckchi Sea. Erin was 6 months pregnant with their second child during the journey, and carried their toddler, Katmai, on her back as they bushwhacked through thick brush and climbed scree slopes. Bear tracks, and the bear that made them, feature heavily in the video clip, and I can’t help but shiver a little when Katmai stands alongside the giant tracks in the sand. But a larger part of me envies Katmai; he will grow up with physical knowledge of  a wild and untamed landscape, and his earliest memories will be of sitting with his parents under the stars, watching them passionately pursue their dreams for a better world.
          On September 15, they are leaving for their next big expedition. For  two months, they will be  living on the ice of the Malaspina Glacier with a 7 month old baby and a 2 year old. They will have to carry all their supplies with them, as they are too far out for resupply stops other than a few plane drops. They will have to watch for grizzlies and extreme weather, as well as maintaining the basic needs of the family. Among it all, they will investigate the impact of global warming on this fragile ecosystem.
          Read more about their journey and other stories from the family expeditions here.
         Or, check out their book about their amazing journey north.

Categories: Backpacking, Inspiration, Outdoor Life, Toddlers | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Inspiration: Kids on a Wire, Nepal

Kids on a Wire from World Report Viewfinder on Vimeo.

So, I’ve been on a bit of a blogging hiatus due to the birth of our baby boy, Liam, who arrived in early July. It’s been a crazy 5 weeks, but we are now settling into a routine that, happily, includes more writing time for Mom. We’ve been on a few adventures already, including some short hikes and trips to the beach. The Kid is pretty mellow as long as he has access to milk whenever and wherever he feels like it, and he has been falling asleep in his carrier on most of our little treks. Next weekend, we are heading out on our first camping trip as a family, and I’ll post about how we are preparing for this next big step.

In the meantime, I came across this reminder of how much we take for granted in the west. The Nepalese kids in this video travel for hours each day in order to go to school, and in the process must cross a dangerous river on a shoddy zipline. I have such respect and awe for the strength of their desire to learn and improve their own lives.

Categories: Inspiration, School Age, Teens | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Inspiration: Aaron Teasdale’s 6-week Family Bikepacking Trip

Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

 

     In what he described as a “monumental undertaking”, Aaron Teasdale, a Montana based writer-photographer, took his two young sons on a 6-week mountain bike backpacking expedition from Glacier National Park in Montana, to Banff National Park in Canada.  Teasdale and his sons rode a massive triple-seater mountain bike, which allowed the two smaller boys to keep up with their father, but caused them to have to invent some tricky bike maneuvers to get over the many fallen trees that blocked the rough trail they were following.  His wife Jaqueline accompanied them and towed along a BOB trailer that contained much of their gear and food. Check out these links below to follow his journey and see pictures of a VERY cool family-style mountain bike.

How We Did It

Aaron Teasdale: Weblog

Categories: Biking, Inspiration, School Age | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Inspiration: The Crawfords Hike the Wonderland Trail

I’ve always been a bit of an insomniac, but with this pregnancy I’ve often found myself up late at night, wandering around the thicket of the interwebs. Among other research, I’ve been searching for examples of familes who have managed to maintain an adventurous lifestyle with their children. One of the first family adventures I came across is the tale of Ben and Kami Crawford, who backpacked the 93 mile Wonderland Trail with their 4 children ages 2,4,6 and 8. It took them 12 days to hike the trail, which loops around the base of Mt. Ranier, during which time they gained and lost around 20,000 feet in elevation. There are a few hairy moments; morale flagged during the constant rain mid-trip, a few dicey suspension bridge crossings had me squirming a little, and I can’t help but think about what I would do differently in terms of preparedness for extreme conditions. But overall, they had a great trip and I find it heartening to see an example that negates all the comments I’ve been getting about how we’ll never be able to leave the house again after we have kids.  You can watch all 9 narrated slideshows of their trip here.

Categories: Backpacking, Inspiration, School Age, Toddlers | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Inspiration: Finding Farley

     In 2007, filmmakers Karsten Heuer and Leanne Allison, along with their 2 year old son Zev and their border collie Willow,  set out to explore the landscapes of Canada as immortalized in the writings of Farley Mowat.  To do so, they had to canoe, hike and sail over 5000 miles  from the midwestern prairies of Canmore, Alberta  to the shores of Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia. Along the way they passed through native villages, went north across the barrens to Hudson Bay, and encountered a great variety of wildlife, including one memorable scene where they have to canoe right past a polar bear. The bugs nearly drove them insane and the deep, muddy portages practically sucked the boots off their feet, but all three pushed on to their final destination. Their two-year-old son, Zev, seemed to take the whole trip in stride, and exhibited a calmness throughout the journey that makes me think about how kids adjust to what’s “normal” in their lives. If a child grows up thinking that pulling a canoe upstream through thickets and rapids is how life happens, he won’t be upset when put in that situation. If a kid is raised in front of a television and never learns to self-amuse, he’ll likely shatter under the strain of such a journey. Since we probably aren’t going to do such a long and involved journey,we’ll have to find some sort of middle ground.  It’s this sense of living with the wild as “normal daily life” that we really want to foster in our own kids.

     Finding Farley has won awards at several major outdoor film festivals, including the top prize at the 2009 Banff Film Festival. You can watch the entire film at Heur and Allison’s website,  Neccessary Journeys.

Categories: Inspiration, Paddling, Toddlers | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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