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.
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.