Finding Common Ground in Local Communities + Raising More than $16,000 for Youth Organizations
Faced with a growing divide in rural landscapes around our public lands and waters, the Under Solen team proposed an idea to our client, OARS: open the doors of their boathouses in the American West to all and find common ground through community and conversation around public lands and waters.
Hometown and grassroots to its core and fueled with support from partners, YETI, Chaco, and NRS, along with local sponsors, we launched a series of five community events that drew crowds of more than 200 in rural locations across the West and raised more than $16,000 for local youth organizations.
Off the beaten path and hometown to its core, the OARS Boathouse Tour sold out each event and drew crowds of more than 200 in five locations including Moab and Vernal, Utah, Lotus, California, Lewiston, Idaho, and Flagstaff, Arizona, and raised more than $16,000 in total for local youth organizations.
“We had an unprecedented opportunity to shift the conversation of our public lands and waters toward a common understanding and vision and to draw on the basic needs of us as humans to connect and socialize. We started this shift,” Stacy Bare, an adventure and health consultant and founder of Adventure Not War, said. “So many events are exclusive and only open to those of like minds, but we faced this head on and brought people together in a safe, inviting realm where we could leave all the other BS at home. In Vernal, we saw oil field workers and veterans breaking bread with nonprofit volunteers and government employees. In Lewiston, we saw jet boaters and bullet factory workers standing around a fire drinking a beer with river guides and local teachers.”
Bare, a National Geographic Adventurer of the Year and an Iraq War veteran, emceed the majority of the Boathouse Tour. He added, “We created an inclusiveness and a shared dialogue and experience where everyone felt like they were a part of an integral community.”
Featuring a dynamic selection of award-winning films, the Boathouse Tour highlighted one in particular at each location: Return from Desolation. This short film shares the story of war-veteran-turned-river-guide Garrett Eaton and his fight for redemption and balance through the wild rivers and public lands within Utah’s Desolation Canyon. Eaton and his family, who call Vernal, Utah home attended the majority of the events and connected with guests throughout Utah and at the final event in Lewiston, Idaho.
“The films offered a way to articulate the importance of our natural landscape and access to it in a way that amplified the connection of all people in the community, and that they didn't have to belong to any exclusive group to do so,” Justin Clifton, Return from Desolation filmmaker and Under Solen collaborator, said. “When the audience watches a film in a crowd with friends, family, and even strangers, it sparks a conversation about shared experience and gives the audience access to some of these wild places and waters in a way they didn’t have before.”
In addition to breaking down some of the polarized thinking around public lands, the Boathouse Tour celebrated the significant role guides and outfitters play in local economies and their efforts to protect the lands and waters that make up the bedrock of the industry.
“The Lewiston community is humble and celebrates self-sufficient, blue collar folks who take pride in their family and the satisfaction of a hard day's work. The Boathouse Tour felt like the best family reunion you have ever been to,” said Hillary Mosman, Commissary Manager for OARS Dories and a Lewiston, Idaho native. “Maybe you didn't recognize everyone, or know where they came from, but you knew that we all love the same thing—our rivers. Once the films began and you could hear the cheering, see folks nod in agreement with touching rivers stories... there was something in the air. We were connected.”
In 1969, OARS became the first exclusively non-motorized rafting outfitter authorized by the National Park Service to run trips on the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. Today OARS caters to active travelers of all ages and abilities with more than 75 unique itineraries worldwide, including one-day and weekend escapes. Each year the company contributes to regional conservation organizations around the globe via voluntary donations and annual fundraising events, and in partnership with their guests, OARS has contributed more than $5 million in donations and fees toward the preservation of the environment and to various conservation initiatives since the company’s inception. For more information on OARS’ eco-friendly adventures, visit www.oars.com, email the company at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-800-346-6277.