Lewis Muirhead: Co-Founder, Beyond Boarding

Get a snow­board, then change the world.

That’s the idea behind Beyond Board­ing, an orga­ni­za­tion ded­i­cat­ed to bring­ing pos­i­tive change at home and abroad, fueled by a pas­sion for snowboarding.

For­get the stereo­types of snow­board­ers being all play and no work. A group of friends based out of British Colum­bia, Cana­da, have come togeth­er to change the world for the bet­ter, bring­ing their surf boards and snow­boards along for the ride. Their projects and efforts are doc­u­ment­ed on film, which are used to inspire their shred­der friends to make some change of their own.

I spoke with Lewis Muir­head, one of the mas­ter­minds behind Beyond Board­ing, to learn more about the orga­ni­za­tion and how they are using their snow­boards to make a difference.

Beyond Boarding

The Clymb: What is Beyond Board­ing and how did it come to be? What is your role with­in the organization?

Lewis Muir­head: Beyond Board­ing is a group of friends who enjoy spread­ing envi­ron­men­tal and human­i­tar­i­an knowl­edge to the snow­board, ski and surf com­mu­ni­ties in West­ern Cana­da. Over the past two years, we have focused on mak­ing movies, short and long, about our work to spread the good word of stoke for nature and giv­ing back.

Beyond Board­ing came to be after a con­ver­sa­tion between Tamo Cam­pos, David MacK­in­non and myself: we were talk­ing about how to make a dif­fer­ence with a sport we are all pas­sion­ate about.

My role in the orga­ni­za­tion has ranged from fundrais­ing, writ­ing, mak­ing t‑shirts to film­ing and orga­niz­ing trips.

The Clymb: The team made a trip to Peru last year. What was the pur­pose of that trip, and what do you feel Beyond Board­ing accomplished?

Lewis Muir­head:Our trip to Peru was about tak­ing the ener­gy we all have from doing a sport we love, and chan­nel­ing that into a project that would help peo­ple that are not as for­tu­nate as we are here in Canada.

We fundraised and sup­plied our own skills to build a gar­den raft and a library in the com­mu­ni­ty of Belen, a slum in the city of Iqui­tos, Peru. We accom­plished the task we set out to do by com­plet­ing the project and doc­u­ment­ing it with film to share with peo­ple back here in North Amer­i­ca. I hope the film will be just the begin­ning in get­ting peo­ple inter­est­ed and com­pelled to take action in their own lives how­ev­er they are able to.

The Clymb: The North­ern BC Project is anoth­er major mis­sion the orga­ni­za­tion has under­tak­en. What’s the sto­ry behind this journey?

Lewis Muir­head: The North­ern BC Project, now dubbed “North­ern Grease”, is an attempt to open people’s eyes to mega-projects cur­rent­ly under­way around our province (British Colum­bia) and into Alberta.

Our team trav­eled in a veg­etable oil-pow­ered school bus around the province, doc­u­ment­ing our­selves snow­board­ing and surf­ing, while all along dig­ging deep into the true nature of projects like the North­ern Gate­way Pipeline, frack­ing for nat­ur­al gas, open pit min­ing, and clear cut logging.

We also made it a point to look into the alter­na­tives to these projects that our gov­ern­ment could be putting a lot more research and mon­ey into in order to make our province a renew­able resource leader in the world; alter­na­tives like wind pow­er, solar, bio­mass and per­ma­cul­ture. The team has returned and we are cur­rent­ly in post-pro­duc­tion for the film with an antic­i­pat­ed release date of mid-February.

The Clymb: Your new web­site, beyondboarding.org, encour­ages the pub­lic to take action towards caus­es that they deem to be impor­tant. What do you hope to come out of this new initiative?

Lewis Muir­head: Our pledge sys­tem is a way for peo­ple to see how they can take exam­ple from oth­ers to take action and then be account­able to the group once they have made pledge. We hope to spread the word and have a col­lec­tive move­ment of snow­board­ers, skiers and surfers open their eyes to the change they can make in the world.

The Clymb: What is the long-term vision for the orga­ni­za­tion? Do you have any upcom­ing projects or trips planned?

Lewis Muir­head: Our long-term vision is to con­tin­ue to spread the word with­in the snow­board com­mu­ni­ty by keep­ing news flow­ing from the field.

We are part­nered with oth­er groups and we would like to have our info in snow­board shops across North Amer­i­ca so that when some­one buys equip­ment, they can have a chance to learn and give back.

Our films and web­site will be our main focus over the next year. We aim to inform peo­ple and then they will have the knowl­edge and pow­er to make changes in their own lives.

The Clymb: What do you feel is the group’s great­est accom­plish­ment to date?

Lewis Muir­head: I feel that our great­est accom­plish­ment to date has been con­nect­ing with thou­sands of school chil­dren through our school talks while trav­el­ling across the coun­try. I believe this because they have been so recep­tive to our mes­sage. They love the ener­gy behind snow sports and can see the fal­la­cy in putting all our ener­gy into destruc­tive indus­tries such as oil and gas and logging.

The Clymb: If some­body wants to get involved with Beyond Board­ing, what can they do?

Lewis Muir­head: First off, go to the web­site, make a pledge and then shoot us an email. Let us know what skills you have or what skill you would like to devel­op. We have con­nec­tions with many vol­un­teer­ing groups if you want to get on the ground to work. We would also love video con­tent of you and your friends doing some­thing good for the earth or your fel­low human beings.