Category: Editor’s Note

Editor’s Note: American Jedi Bodhisattvas

Nobody wins until everybody wins

ASJ founders Cathy Claesson and Matt Niswonger at the base of Lower Yosemite Falls. 

An important conversation is happening within the outdoor industry right now, and this conversation revolves around outdoor inclusion. 

Simply put, outdoor inclusion means opening the benefits of the outdoor lifestyle to everyone. For decades the outdoor industry has been recognized as a leader in the area of environmental sustainability, but when it comes to diversity there is much less to get excited about. 

In my mind, the first step towards inclusion is stepping back to see exactly who gets to participate in the outdoor lifestyle. When I paddle out to my favorite surf break in Santa Cruz, who do I see? When I go to the climbing gym, who do I see? When I stand in line for a lift ticket at a ski resort, who do I see? When I …

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Editor’s Note: Primal Bliss

A wild person’s guide to the four pillars of adventure

One of the main benefits of outdoor adventure is how it connects us to all kinds of really cool, wild people. Personally I’ve always felt that outdoor adventure is way better when shared with others. The process of planning and executing a group adventure, whether it’s a two-hour surf session with a friend in Santa Cruz, a three-day guided raft journey with your extended family on the American River, a mountain bike weekend in Downieville with a dozen friends, an odyssey up the PCT with someone you just met while hiking the trail, or a few hours spent at your favorite ski resort doing tree runs with your kids, the shared rituals are pretty much sacred to me.

Building a lifestyle around the rituals of shared adventure has been my focus for about twenty years now. When I’m not working …

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Editor’s Note: Issue 107 — Hippy Capitalism

Viva Los Funhogs

As I write this note we are putting the final touches on Issue # 107 while preparing to travel to the Outdoor Retailer (OR) trade show in Denver later this week. For many years, OR has been the place where big, influential outdoor companies like REI, Patagonia, The North Face, and Clif Bar gather under one roof. We go twice a year to catch up with friends, learn about industry developments, and most of all to get inspired.

What I admire the most about the outdoor industry is that the leading companies care as much about environmental sustainability as profitability. In contrast to almost every other industry, leading outdoor brands like Patagonia are about inspiring customers to live a life that is more in tune with nature. As a result, smaller companies follow their lead and a virtuous cycle ensues. Every time we go to OR …

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Editor’s Note: Issue 106

Haters back off: Stop treating California like a social outcast

By Matt Niswonger

As the first rains finally arrived on Thanksgiving weekend it appeared our hellish fire season was finally over. While the fire danger subsided many Californians still smoldered with anger in the wake of comments made by President Trump and Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke after both men toured the devastation.

As a state we are still coming to grips with the scale of this tragedy, but President Trump considers himself highly educated on the subject and provided some “helpful” tips. There’s no predicting the pithy words that come out of his mouth on a regular basis, so when he toured the devastation in mid November and gave a speech, I paid close attention. Here is what I understood:

California had a terrible fire season, but we all need to calm down and look to Finland. You …

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Editor’s Note: Issue 105

Earn Your Beer — A philosophy for living our lives

By Matt Niswonger

About ten years ago we stopped adding our tagline, “Earn Your Beer” to the cover of our print publication. A vocal minority of readers was furious that we were promoting alcohol use in the outdoors, and after some discussion we nixed the tagline to placate those who were offended.

Even though we removed the phrase from our cover it still very much a part of our magazine. We still sell hundreds of t-shirts every year with the tagline on the front or back. Moving forward, this number will rise significantly as we begin selling Earn Your Beer shirts online.

As we increase our t-shirt sales, I feel it necessary to explain the somewhat cryptic phrase, and how it became a life philosophy that defines Adventure Sports Journal.

Many years ago I realized there are two types of …

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Editor’s Note : The Digital Compromise

Staying true to our roots in a virtual world

By Matt Niswonger

IN RESPONSE TO MY ARTICLE IN THE LAST ISSUE (#103 Digital Apocalypse) we received more emails than usual. Readers unanimously rejected the idea that print media is inferior to digital media, and many let us know that they refuse to read ASJ on their phones and laptops and enjoy the more serene vibe of turning paper pages.

In addition to printing many of your emails, we compiled excerpts and took them with us to the Outdoor Retailer trade show in Colorado in late July. Outdoor Retailer Summer Market has traditionally been the place where the entire industry, from sleeping bag makers to kayak manufacturers and everybody in between, comes together. We wanted to show our current advertisers and some potential new advertisers how passionate you feel about reading ASJ in print and not spending any more of …

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Editor’s Note: Digital Apocalypse

Digital Apocalypse: Not all rabbit holes lead to Wonderland

digital apocalypse

NEARLY 9 IN TEN TEENS ARE ONLINE EITHER “almost constantly” or “several times a day,” according to a new report from Pew Research Center. Half of all teens say they feel addicted to their mobile devices.

That’s right, 50 percent of teens actually admitted that they feel addicted in this major study that was just released.

Not only do teens feel they can’t put their devices down, but their parents know it (59 percent) and many parents themselves can’t put their own devices down (27 percent), according to a Washington Post article published on May 31, 2018.

“Generation Z” describes anyone born between 2000 and 2010. On behalf of Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, and the rest of the smartphone/social media pioneers from my generation who figured out how to highjack your brains, I would like to apologize to Generation Z. We …

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Editor’s Note: Self Care

The Power Within

Running a small business as a married couple is not for the faint of heart. You have to constantly switch back and forth between family issues and business issues as seamlessly as possible, without getting caught up in any drama. Cathy and I started Adventure Sports Journal, got married, and started a family all at the same time. Seventeen years later we have two teenagers, a pre-teen, a dog, four chickens, multiple bank accounts, multiple social media accounts, three cars, and the list goes on. I also work as a high voltage lineman, one of the most dangerous professions in America.

Needless to say, our life sometimes feels a bit complicated. We deal with a steady stream of problems and minor crises pretty much from the moment we wake up until we go to bed at night. Our kids play sports and have to be shuttled

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Editor’s Note: Fight Club

The power of no mind

Lately I have been spending a great deal of time in the ocean, surfing with my middle son Lukas, who is thirteen. He is going through a phase where he wants to surf as much as possible, and I’m stoked to spend quality time together. Some days I feel motivated to catch as many waves as possible, but usually it’s fun to just relax in the lineup and watch Lukas ride waves. His skill level has long since surpassed mine, and I’m happy to just soak in the beauty of nature from a magic place: floating in the ocean while looking back at land.

Recently I had an insight while surfing with Lukas. The deep feeling of relaxation that was rejuvenating me was connected to the fact that I was in a neutral state of mind and just absorbing my surroundings with very little

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Editor’s Note Issue 98: The Adventure Path

 Tales of entrepreneurship, adventure, family, happiness and power

By Matt Niswonger

On July ninth, over three thousand surfers took to the ocean in honor of Jack O’Neill, the founder of O’Neill wetsuits and apparel. This was by far the largest paddle out in history, and a beautiful spectacle to behold.

O’Neill left an impressive business legacy, but the reason so many people came to honor him was not just because he was an icon in the surf industry. For the most part, surfers felt moved to honor Jack because his invention of the wetsuit made surfing possible for many who wouldn’t have had access to surfing otherwise. He made the cold ocean waters of Northern California feel warm and inviting, creating happiness for generations to come. What a gift.

Jack’s paddle out made me think about happiness, and how the outdoor sports we cover in ASJ are a key

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