In collaboration with Presca, the world's first climate-positive sportswear brand.
In many ways adventure is rooted in abundance. Nature’s awe, new places to experience, the promise of feeling alive. The great, endless unknown. This Edition celebrates some of this abundance, but takes a critical and creative look at how it plays out.
We’re proud to deliver this Edition in partnership with Presca: the world’s first climate-positive sportswear brand. To dig into what that means, and to learn more about the challenges it presents, we enjoyed an honest conversation with CEO Rob Webbon. Use the code 'abundance' for a free sugarcane water bottle with any purchase over £20, until the end of August (just add the bottle to your basket).
More than anybody in this Edition, Neftalie Williams embodies the critical celebration of abundance. Passionate skateboarder, skate scholar and ambassador for skate culture, his deep belief in skateboarding’s distinctiveness, richness and potential to improve the world offers a compelling vision of a truly unique sport.
Jonathan Purkis’ recent book, Driving With Strangers, looks with similar abundance upon hitchhiking. Long considered a dead or dying art in the West, Purkis makes the case that hitchhiking is in fact a diverse and fascinating subculture with much to tell us about how we might live better. We thoroughly enjoyed a wide-ranging chat with the 'vagabond sociologist'.
If skateboarding and hitchhiking are tied to urban infrastructure, much outdoor culture relies on environmental abundance. But this is problematic, and two complementary essays explore.
The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCA), the subject of Joe Whitson's piece.
Em Hartova holds a mirror up to the language we use in the outdoor industry. Pointing to our ongoing reliance on fossil fuels, and critiquing the idea that outdoor recreation is sufficient as environmental action, she calls on us all to agitate for change.
Joe Whitson makes a similar argument against the imperative to ‘explore’ underpinning the outdoor community. He advocates for a more humble, reciprocal relationship with the outdoors that remains open to learning from cultures and ecologies, not just realising individual conquest.
The difference between the perception and reality of environmental abundance is particularly stark in the UK, where the national myth of bucolic countryside obscures a bleaker reality. Only by acknowledging this can we change it, as environmental campaigner Guy Shrubsole knows better than most.
Wistman's Wood, one of the many pockets of Britain's lost rainforest Guy Shrubsole is fighting to restore
A reminder of the regeneration possible in our landscapes arrived during lockdown, when wildlife reemerged into the space vacated by humans. Wildlife filmmaker and author James Aldred had a remarkable front-row seat, with permission to shoot New Forest goshawks through the spring and summer - the subject of his Wainwright Prize longlisted book Goshawk Summer. We asked him about those weeks.
On the topic of abundance, it’s impossible not to think of the acute cost-of-living crisis. Nik Elvy, who has written for us before on the myth that the outdoors is free, re-emphasises that message, with a particular emphasis on food: too often the hidden ticket to outdoor participation.
Sometimes adventure takes place in the shadows of abundance. When Eloise Stark moved to Paris a few years ago, she found herself living in the opulent neighbourhood of Saint-Germain-des-Près. There was only one catch: she was in the servants’ quarters, shunned and stowed away by her bourgeois neighbours.
And sometimes abundance, or its lack, is internal. Climber Victoria Wilson has experienced this in the gender stereotypes at play in the climbing world. Too often, she argues, women are discouraged from dynamic, expansive styles of climbing. How can climbing culture change?
We hope this Edition helps you explore with abundance, and of course a critical eye, this summer.
The AU Team.
In many ways adventure is rooted in abundance. Nature’s awe, new places to experience, the promise of feeling alive - the great, endless unknown. Abundance celebrates some of this abundance, but takes a critical and creative look at some of the ways it plays out.
Read all of Edition 15 below...
Joe Whitson is scholar and public humanist whose work brings together political ecology, Indigenous studies, and digital humanities in projects that seek to address a range of environmental justice issues. His upcoming book, Marketing the Wilderness, looks at the how the outdoor recreation industry and Indigenous activists use social media to shape public land access, policy, and representation in the United States. Joe is currently a postdoctoral researcher at Northwestern University in Chicago.
NIK Elvy is a Director and Founder of Curious School of the Wild CIC. She is a writer and researcher on the subject of poverty, stigma and access to the outdoors, she is also a single parent to 3 children living on a low income. Nik is grateful for the free school meals that she received throughout her time in school.
Guy Shrubsole is a writer and environmental campaigner. He has worked for Rewilding Britain, Friends of the Earth, the UK government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and New Zealand’s Ministry of Agriculture. He has written widely for publications including the Guardian and New Statesman. His first book, Who Owns England?, was an instant Sunday Times bestseller. His next book, The Lost Rainforests of Britain, is published on October 27th by William Collins.
Jonathan Purkis is an independent academic, tutor and musician. He grew up in Hull, studied and later taught sociology in several English universities. He has published many works on environmental protest and anarchism and has been collecting information on hitchhiking almost from the day he first stuck his thumb out in 1982. (Since then he has clocked up 40,198 miles and had lifts from 1309 strangers, but does not consider himself officially 'retired'!).
Rob is the CEO at Presca Sportswear, the world’s first climate-positive sportswear company. Presca makes technical sportswear for people who give a sh*t about the planet. They are a community of cyclists, runners and outdoor enthusiasts. Rob has a degree in Environmental Science and a Masters with distinction in Environmental Coastal Engineering. He worked in sustainability for fifteen years, on projects spanning marine and land-based renewables, carbon accounting, home energy efficiency and more. When he’s not behind his desk Rob will be found with his young family, or out running and biking on the trails around Bristol and beyond. He's raced numerous marathons, ultramarathons and Ironman triathlons.
James Aldred is the celebrated author of The Man Who Climbs Trees and an Emmy Award winning documentary wildlife camera man and filmmaker. He works with the likes of the BBC and National Geographic and has collaborated with Sir David Attenborough on numerous projects including Life of Mammals, Planet Earth and Our Planet. He specialises in forest filming, especially at height within forest canopy, where he uses ropes and canopy platforms to film orangutans, chimps and birds of prey.
Eloise Stark is a freelance journalist specialising in feminism and travel. Her work has appeared in New York Times, Broadview, AFP, Huck Magazine and Atlas Obscura amongst other publications. She was awarded the prestigious French Social Journalism Award in 2018. Last year, she was a Semi-Finalist in the Medium Writers' Challenge, with her personal essay ranking in the top ten entries.
Dr. Neftalie Williams is a sociologist and University of Southern Califronia Provost’s Post-Doctoral Scholar at the Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism, and Yale Schwarzman Center Visiting Fellow in Race, Culture & Community. He investigates global issues of race, diversity, identity, and youth empowerment, using the lens of action sports culture - particularly skateboarding. Williams holds a Ph.D. from the University of Waikato and has upcoming books with Artisan Books and UC Press focused on skateboarding culture.
Vicky studies English and History at the University of Birmingham. She is the Editor of the academic journal, URISE, and loves writing for Redbrick paper in her free time. When she's not writing, you’ll find her at a roller disco or bouldering in the Peak District.