The Outside Blog

Dispatches : Sep 2011

Words Without Borders

Words Without Borders international literature
There’s no better way to learn about a country you plan to visit than reading about it, and local writing is the most authentic storytelling you’ll find. Until now, it’s been difficult to find translations of works written in places like North Korea, Iraq and even Europe. Words Without Borders changed all that when it started publishing international literature online in 2003.

Eight years later, has gathered one of the largest collections of contemporary international literature in the English-speaking world. The group has published well over 1,000 works from 114 countries and 80 languages. Submissions are organized by country, language and author—including fiction, poetry, nonfiction, book reviews, graphic lit and interviews. With 10 new works a month in its online magazine and five anthologies already to its name, WWB is bringing international writing back into the mainstream.

Susan Harris is the Editorial Director of WWB, and took a few minutes recently to tell us about her organization.

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The Cold Revolution

The first generation of snowsports hot shots is looking for meaning, and they’re finding it in the struggle to solve climate change.

If there’s snow around, and you give an Inuit child one ski, or a Moroccan elder a plastic bag, both will naturally do one thing. They’ll slide downhill. Why? Because having fun is a piece of being human. A big piece.
That’s why 1,500 youth, but also some grandparents and half a dozen infants, gathered September 23 on a rainy night in Whistler, British Columbia, for the world premiere of All.I.Can, a new ski film by some young and ambitious Canadian upstarts called The Sherpas. The crowd screamed at the expected ski acrobatics, but they also sat captivated and in awe as the film delivered a subtle message not typically found in so called “ski porn.”
All.I.Can explores the common joy human beings of all cultures and ages derive from sliding on snow—and what we stand to lose if climate change destroys that opportunity. The film forces viewers to reflect on the beauty (and therefore preciousness) of the world—not just the snowcovered parts, and not just nature—as a source of redemption and happiness.
Walking around the lobby, I ran into representatives from Snowriders International, a new NGO dedicated to snowsports and the environment. It reminded me of the Mountain Riders Alliance, also formed recently “to develop values-based, environmentally-friendly, rider-centric mountain playgrounds that encourage minimal carbon footprint.” Just last week I joined big mountain snowboarder Jeremy Jones in Washington, D.C., along with Olympic snowboarder Gretchen Bleiler and skier Chris Davenport, fresh from the top of Everest, to ask legislators to save our $66 billion winter sports industry from climate change. Jones, who has two children, started his nonprofit, Protect Our Winters, in 2007 in response to the visible changes he’s seen in the world. POW has 30,000 followers on Facebook.

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Company Spotlight: Oboz

Oboz Men's Beartooth BDRY 300

There are plenty of great footwear companies out there. But over the past few years, we often find ourselves lacing up the ones that were made by the little company based in Bozeman—Oboz is shorthand for "Out of Bozeman." The reason is pretty simple: they make burly hiking boots and shoes. Boots that are capable of handling any adventure in Montana's 18 million acres of wilderness.

Oboz boots first hit stores in 2008, but the company's founder, John Connelly, has been in the industry for more than forty years. His first outdoor business venture was a three-floor Richmond, Virginia-based hippy department store, equal parts head shop, record shop, leather shop, waterbed vendor, camping supplier, and purveyor of army surplus gear. From there, Connelley went on to work with 17 different—17!— footwear brands before starting his own. Connelley and his cohorts claim that they started Oboz, "so we could wake up in the morning and not dread going to the office." Of course, picking Bozeman as their location helped, too.

A few years ago, our testers were especially smitten with their Ignition model, a light hiking / trail running hybrid that was tough enough for the gnarliest trails. (That shoe is no longer in the line, but it's similar to their Hardscrabble shoe.) More recently, we've been field-testing their newest boot, the full height, big-load ready Beartooth. It's mostly leather with a heel-locking ankle lace and a topo of the Wind Rivers carved into it's sole. Buy it, or any other boot or shoe that Oboz makes, and the company will plant a tree through Trees for the Future. Available October 2011, $200,

--Berne Broudy

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The Best Bike Accessories and Apparel from Interbike 2011

We love Interbike for all the techy bling and cool, new gadgets we find there. We could devote pages and pages to the hottest new tech (and we will in subsequent issues of the magazine), but for now, here are a few of the best-looking bike accessories we found in Vegas.

--Aaron Gulley

Pearl Izumi Octane SLIII
Pearl Izumi Octane SLIII
Pearl has revamped its top-end Octane shoe with a complete, space-age design that elminates almost all the seams from the upper and slashes the weight. Constructed of supple synthetic and superlight mesh that is welded rather than stitched and built around a very thin (only 6.5mm stack height), vented uni-directional carbon sole, the $350 shoe weighs in at a feathery 195 grams and should feel as breezy as a sandal. Two other models, the buckle-top PRO Leader ($270) and the triathlete-oriented Tri Fly Octane ($350) make use of the same construction methods. As for the flashy look, it will take some real speed to pull these off.

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Finally, a Snuggie for the Wilderness

Selk'bag Lite - Surf the Web

Do you find sleeping bags too confining? Are you a sleepwalker concerned about frostbite on your late night excursions? Are you jealous of small children who have onesie pajamas with feet? Then do we have something for you.

Introducing the Selk'bag. This Gumby-like, polyester-filled, insulating outfit is a sleeping bag with legs, arms, a hood, and feet. The feet have reinforced nylon soles, and the hands now have no-zip quick release in-and-out access.

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