By Bryn Skibo-Birney

On Thursday, 31 January, Patagonia Vancouver hosted over 300 people to a film-screening of The Radicals, an “environmentalism meets action sports” documentary. The film features professional athletes – such as Patagonia snowboarding ambassador, Marie-France Roy and snowboarder-turned-textile-artist Meghann O’Brien (Haida and Kwakwaka’wakw) – working with the Xwisten Nation, the Tahltan, the Musgamagw, the Namgis, and the Haida to highlight current dangers to British Columbia’s celebrated landscapes and ecosystems.

Combining stunning cinematography with captivating stories and soaring fetes of athleticism (ranging from snowboarding to canoe surfing), it’s no wonder that The Radicals has become a darling among the independent film festivals, being selected for the Banff Mountain Film Festival, the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival (VIMFF), the Whistler Film Festival, and the Wild & Scenic Film Festival.

The screening was, per event coordinator Erika Preece, a run-away success, raising over $1,600 for Protect Our Winters (POW) and raising awareness on vital issues of environmental activism and Indigenous sovereignty, all in a convivial atmosphere. Crowds waited for over forty-five minutes to snag prime seats for the standing-room only screening, but the chilly wait was quickly forgotten with provisions from Clif Bar, Persephone Brewing, and RISE Kombucha, not to mention the chance to win big-ticket gear donated by Patagonia and Arbor Collective.

I caught up with Preece after the event to ask about the origins of the Patagonia events, the store’s links with The Radicals crew, and what we can expect for future evenings.

Where did the Patagonia events idea come from? Do other Patagonia stores do similar events or is it just the Vancouver store?

On a regular basis (about every other month), there will be an event that Patagonia as a company will put together for their retail stores to execute. These events are often films or campaigns that the company as a whole has supported or participated in, featuring Patagonia ambassadors. These are corporate-level planned events but, in addition to those, we also do local events that we plan for our Vancouver store only. [The next event is the Kitsilano Community yoga evening, on February 19th at 19:30; entry is free but remember to bring your own mat.]

What events has the store hosted in the past?

There have been so many amazing ones! From film releases, to live music, galleries, protests, panels, and so much more.

How did you decide on bringing in the team from The Radicals? What was the impetus behind the store’s support of the film?

There are a couple of connections here. Patagonia as a company is a major partner with Protect Our Winters (POW), an environmental nonprofit. Marie-France Roy, one of the filmmakers, is a Patagonia ambassador and also a POW activist. The Radicals film is definitely in-line with the company and store’s vision to show how an appreciation for outdoor sports goes hand-in-hand with the responsibility to steward and to protect these wild places that we all enjoy. I thought the film was especially important to show in Vancouver, since all the communities featured were situated here in B.C.

Who are the other sponsors of the evening and what’s their connection to Patagonia and The Radicals?

We have an ongoing partnership with Persephone Brewing, who is another B corporation. [B Corporations, like Patagonia, as well as local companies such as HootSuite, Spud, and Animikii, are certified to “meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.”]

Clif bars were donated as Marie-France Roy works with them, and we brought in RISE Kombucha cocktails as a locally-produced alternative to beer.

What was your reaction to the evening? Was it successful from the perspective of the store?

For sure! I hadn’t actually seen the film yet, so I was quite impressed with the storytelling. I found it to be a good balance between the athletes exploring and playing in beautiful places, and them learning about the environmental issues that those communities are currently facing. I was really impressed with the turnout (over 300 people), the funds raised for POW (over $1,600), and the quality of questions coming out of the Q+A period with the filmmakers.

Patagonia is well-known for its support for international environmental causes. How does/do the event/events coincide with that message?

It’s all about awareness and answering with action. We have a saying here that “If you love a place, you must protect it.” I think the Radicals event really had that ethos in mind for all the reasons mentioned above! The company puts funds towards the enviro and events programs to make sure that every retail store is engaging and informing their community, not just selling gear. It’s up to us to stay up to date with groups doing good work in our areas and to figure out ways to support them.

What other events can we look forward to?

There are lots of different things coming up for spring! More films, campaign launches, galleries, guided bike rides come spring, etc. [Follow Patagonia Vancouver on Instagram to stay informed of upcoming events, such as the community yoga night every Tuesday at 19:30.]

If you could host any event at the store, who / what would you have in?

I personally come from a sustainable agriculture background, and the company as a whole is starting to become more involved with how regenerative food systems can be a major part of mitigating our environmental crisis. Here in Vancouver, there’s so much going on in that world, so I’m hoping to be more involved.

Last modified: February 26, 2019

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