The Wild Human Story Begins with Jorts and the Rogue River

Floating and fishing in a drift boat through a smoke filled canyon on Oregon's wild and scenic Rogue River. The beginning of the Wild Human story.

Explaining Wild Human is easy – it’s a place for stories and gear reviews about brands and people who’re doing good things for their communities and the world.

Explaining why we created Wild Human and what you can expect requires a story about jorts (jean shorts) and the Rogue River.

When I was a kid I spent some time in Grants Pass, Oregon, a town best known for the wild and scenic Rogue River, and some of the best fishing in the state. 

Billy, a local guide on the Rogue, and a good family friend, introduced me to white water. Years later, one year after my Dad passed away, I spent five days floating and fishing the wild and scenic portion of the Rogue. My parents had been taking the same trip every year for nearly 20 years. Their guide was always Billy. The trip I took was, in part, a way to celebrate my Dad.

When you’re on a five-day river float in a three-person drift boat, your options to pass the time are essentially talk and fish. The guides tell crude and hilarious jokes. They share enough river lore to fill a few books. 

Every day starts and ends with home-cooked meals at isolated river lodges. Lunch is freshly caught salmon and steelhead on the riverbank. I could go on and on about how amazing the trip is, but the point I need you to understand is that on this trip you get to know your group of guides pretty well.

The guides that I got to know aren't Patagonia ambassadors. They don't have Yeti coolers, and they’re definitely not likely to ask for your pronouns.

They wear jean shorts and Sketchers instead of Chacos. They drive loud trucks. A few of them are probably registered Republicans.

Two days into the trip, I started to understand that these guides are complex. I learned that this particular group of guides feed a lot of information about wildlife and river conditions directly to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. I experienced first hand how passionate they are about responsible and sustainable fishing. They love and protect the rivers. In their own way, they’re conservationists. The packaging is just a little different.

The idea of these rough and tumble river guides also being rural versions of tree-huggers doesn’t sync with what I often see in the environmental community. Think about it – what do you see in your head when you think of an environmental activist? Somehow I doubt white Sketchers and trucks are part of your picture.

Man jumping off of a river Into the Rogue River
A man and a woman paddle boarding on the Rogue River

“The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire.” ― Malcolm Gladwell, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference

So, how did we end up going from crass river guides in jorts to Wild Human? Around the time of this epic trip down the Rogue, I was also reading “Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference” by Malcolm McDowell. The book explores actions and behaviors that ultimately lead to trends. It’s a fascinating read. 

The disconnect between my concept of what a conservationist is and what I saw in those river guides, combined with influence from Tipping Point got me thinking about how I can change my own behavior to help solve problems.

As media consumers, we’re constantly berated with doom and gloom headlined – Point of No Return. The Ice is Melting. Animals are Dying.

We should absolutely be concerned about the state of our planet, but I also believe that living with constant warnings of “the end” is unintentionally making some of us numb to the problems we have to solve.

I believe that the majority of our friends and neighbors do care about our planet, and want to help. The bigger problem is that they may not know how to help. That’s where Wild Human started to take shape.

If we’re going to make meaningful progress towards a more sustainable future, I think it’s the small changes in everyday behaviors that will lead to that tipping point. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t support and work towards big change. There are incredible people and organizations that are dedicating their life to changing the world for good. We need those stories to continue. But the small changes from everyone else have to happen alongside those big efforts.

Our goal at Wild Human is to encourage you to use your buying power to help support the people and organizations who are using their influence to work towards a more sustainable future. We’re inspired by outdoor culture, but we’re also focusing on products that we use every day; things like apparel, food, drinks, cooking utensils, and cosmetics. 

Our stories will illustrate how our friends and neighbors are using their actions to make small changes for a better future.

Sustainability isn’t an issue that’s limited to the outdoor industry and we want to bring all of those great stories to you.

Thanks for taking a few minutes out of your day to learn about Wild Human. We hope you continue to support us and the stories we bring you by visiting us on our website, on social media, by signing up for emails, and by using your buying power for good.

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