PORTLAND, OR, USA – June 13th 2013 – Soul River is pleased to announce the premiere of Soul River Chronicles: Conservation which will take place Wednesday, June 26, 2013 at the historical Billy Webb Elks Lodge in Portland, Oregon.
The Elks Lodge has been a focal point in the community for their work promoting diversity and supporting U.S. veterans. Located at 6N. Tillamook Street is considered a rich, historical landmark for the African American community of Portland. Built in 1926 as a project of the Portland YWCA, the building was used to reach out to Portland’s growing African American community. Throughout the 1920’s membership reflected segregated housing in the city with clubs from African-American, Japanese, Chinese, and Native Americans, causing people to refer to the Williams Avenue branch as the “Colored YWCA”. In coordination with churches in the area, the Elks Lodge provided programs and outreach to build a stronger community. Throughout the years, the building was used by the United Service Organizations as a recreation site for minority soldiers in Portland, a Red Cross emergency center following the Vanport flood, and a meeting space for groups including the NAACP, Oregon Association of Colored Women, Urban League, and Congress of Racial Equality.
After completion of the new YMCA building, the Elks Lodge was sold to Billy Webb who restored the building. Renamed the Billy Webb Elks Lodge, it continues to make its mark in the community by bringing people together and promoting diversity.
Soul River’s commitment to promoting diversity in the outdoors, giving back to U.S. veteran soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, and bringing the community together has made the Billy Webb Elks Lodge the perfect venue for the premier of Conservation. The film’s aim is to raise awareness and inspire younger generations to become ambassadors of the outdoors by promoting outdoor diversity, environmental awareness, and social responsibility.
Let children walk with Nature, let them see the beautiful blendings and communions of death and life, their joyous inseparable unity, as taught in woods and meadows, plains and mountains and streams of our blessed star, and they will learn that death is
stingless indeed, and as beautiful as life.
Congratulations to the Chou family featuring Dawn and Natalie in Drake Magazine 2013 June issue article “Fishing with Kids”. Photography shot by
Getting back to the basics is becoming increasingly difficult. Compared to years ago, there are now countless distractions that, although meant to help manage time and make life easier, complicate life and rob us of our time. Rather than providing us the promised freedom, we are actually imprisoned by our mobile devices, social media, video games, iPads, and internet access. The irony is the convenience of our accessibility while virtually anywhere. When these devices are lost, misplaced, or stolen, we find ourselves panicking, desperate to find the device to which we are tethered to. This lifestyle has far worse consequences on children and ultimately the future of our society.
Those who grew up in the 90’s and prior recall living without depending on this technology. Today, children even in the infant ages are exposed to technology multiple times a day. Young teenagers have grown up with technology and are ultimately socialized to live with it, thus robbing society of precious time. Basic social skills, such as conversations and manners are thrown out the window and replaced with quick chats interrupted by constant ringtones notifying us of updates and text. Furthermore, the English language is being dismantled into that of abbreviations, misspellings, and unidentifiable codes. How do we begin to reverse the problem of “essential” technologies in an increasingly fast paced society? Sure, a thorough discussion, informative brochure, or visit to a physician may raise consciousness of the issues, but the dependency to this unlimited access to information, technology, and entertainment can be overpowering and consuming.
Don’t get me wrong, technology has incredible potential; it connects communities locally and globally in ways we never thought imaginable. It is a necessity in our modern world both as a business tool, education portal, and window to the world. We must step away from the glow of the high definition screen in our pocket. We must then pay forward our attention to the physical world in front of us. Spending time with family and friends without the distraction and dependency on technology is becoming a lost art. But, there is hope if we are able to manage the dependency and find balance to live our lives in the moment while integrating these powerful social tools. The best venue to discover a life free from the iron grip of technology is the outdoors. Venture out to the unknown where signal reception is a commodity and embrace nature and each other. Nurture your personal relationships rather than your digital ones. Make friends on the river rather than on facebook.
The friendships I’ve developed on the river have been rewarding and satisfying beyond a quantifiable measure. They have become lasting relationships that led and continue to lead to deeper spirituality, understanding, and personal growth. These relationships will help shape the rest of my life.
The Chou family is a prime example of this type of relationship. I met Brian and Dawn Chou during one of my first fly fishing outings, one that, to this day I still look back on fondly. At the time, I was still learning how to chase fish and surprisingly had a salmon chase me that day. But that’s a whole other story… you would have to ask the Chou family for their humorously accurate account. It was during this moment of irony that I first met them. I still remember how genuine and warm they were to me, a complete stranger at the time. We became fast friends and bonded over stories as they shared their values and outlook, placing great emphasis on family, health, respect, and their passion for the outdoors.
One of the biggest things that stuck with me was how Brian and Dawn instilled their values in their daughter Natalie. They introduced her to the outdoors at a young age and gave her the freedom to explore and express herself in this glorious venue to ultimately learn from the outdoors, independent of technology. By embracing nature and sharing the experience as a family, she was taught life lessons of basic survival and improvisation to friendship, love, and respect.
Through this friendship, I met another family who shared their passion for the outdoors, the Davidchiks. I have gotten to know them very well during our time spent together on the river, exploring new locations and chasing steelhead and trout. Michael’s casting technique is a sight to behold with such care and precision, that there is no question that he would pass this time-honored skill down to his daughter. Similar to the Davidchik family, I grew up in a single parent home and can relate to their family dynamic. From my experiences, I take my hat off to Michael as he takes the time to raise his daughter by the river to share his passions and lessons.
I believe the strongest deterrent to dependency on technology is family. Specific family dynamics are beside the point; single parent, nuclear household, extended family, or a group of close friends. What matters is the time well spent, positive behavior modeled to set examples, and instill values. We must demonstrate how we value personal one-on-one interactions by putting technology down. We can shape the future for the better without the noise and distractions, and by having the courage to live without a dependence on technology. The good times and conversations concerning life, business, fly fishing, and relationships have provided me with not only deep understanding on an interpersonal level, but a strong bond to treasure and hold on to. These one-on-one conversations, and debates wouldn’t be possible if either of us had constant interruptions from checking emails, status updates, and text messages.
After witnessing how the Chou’s and Davidchik’s have taken time out of their busy lives to share the outdoors and the value of true, meaningful conversation with their daughters, I am inspired to raise my kids this way as well. Not to say this is the only way or the best way, but I have seen that being in the outdoors fosters relationships on a whole other level. It is possible to balance our technology-dependent world while still getting back to the basics and intentionally aligning children with nature.
The biggest take away from my experiences on the river is to go out of your way to slow down, leave the phone in the car, and give yourself the opportunity to grow and learn with and from your family and friends. It is a rewarding way to enrich your life and there certainly isn’t an app for that.