Where else would it begin?
After breaking orbit from Victor on Sunday afternoon, and a nerve racking windy drive through the high desert of Idaho and Nevada (truly wondering if the ship would stay together!), we landed in Reno on Monday for our first corporate event at the Patagonia Distribution Center. Yes, THE Patagonia!
Jannine and I, like so many sustainable minded outdoor adventurers, have always admired the ethos behind Patagonia. Since the brand first started as the Great Pacific Iron Works in 1973, Yvon and Malinda Chouinard have been leading the way in for-profit environmentalism and social impact. The positive results of the company’s success on the planet are well known by anyone who has but on a backpack to head off into the great outdoors.
But what many didn’t always know, including us, was how well the company treated their employees and created a culture of mutual purpose. Until that is, when Yvon’s book, Let My People Go Surfing, came out in 2005.
Back then Jannine and I were 3 years into building Fitzgerald’s Bicycles and the book struck a powerful chord with us. We were even lucky to hear Yvon Chouinard speak that year as part of his book launch. From that point on, we have used Patagonia as a model of how we wanted to grow our business with a triple bottom line mindset with equal importance placed on financial success, environmental stewardship, and positive impact on the people we worked with and served as customers.
Fast forward to this year and we discovered another amazing book created out of the hallowed halls of Patagonia,Family Business. This photo rich, 400 page coffee table book documents how Patagonia built, and now defines for every other company, on-site company daycare for their employees. If you want to study Patagonia and figure out where there success came from, you need to understand the value Yvon and especially Malinda placed on employee daycare at the earliest stages of the company’s growth.
The Great Pacific Child Development Center (GPCDC) opened in 1984 when Malinda bought a portable job trailer and hired a babysitter to watch the babies and toddlers who were previously sleeping under desks and crawling through the offices. Plus, nursing mothers were no longer searching for empty closets during feeding times, now they had a quiet comfortable place to go to spend quality time with their little ones during those critical early years.
The story of the GPCDC is truly inspiring for anyone interested in family development, culture building, and standing up for what’s right. Order the book, you’ll love it! Fast forward to today and not only has Patagonia literally written the book on how to run a professional daycare facility that encourages calculated risk taking and creative expression, but they now have a second facility at their gigantic Distribution Center in Reno, NV called The Truckee River Child Development Center (TRCDC).
When J9 and I began mapping out our Raise Riders Tour we set an intention, “Wouldn’t it be amazing to launch our Raise Riders Tour at Patagonia?” Heck yeah! There is no other place in the world that embodies the business practices we aspire to mirror and the early childhood development philosophies we are trying to embed in our programming. So we started working the network!
Thankfully we had a leg up on the goal of working with Patagonia since we have so many friends who are sponsored Patagonia athletes. Even though Yvon and Malinda now call Jackson Hole home, it seemed like a stretch to go knock on their door and ask them to help us approach their Child Development Centers for a partnership! But a handful of friends were happy to make the right connections “on the inside” and before long we were on a conference call with the Child Development Center staff and locking in dates for both Reno and Ventura.
Out of respect for the privacy of the children at the TRCDC, we did not take any photos or videos of the events we held this week.
So you’ll have to create your own mental pictures of what it was like to visit two of the preschool classrooms and read our newest book Taking The Lead. The kiddos loved it and a highlight for them was our son Braden holding the book and turning the pages!
After the reading we offered our first employee workshop (they call it Brain Food) called The Balancing Act: How to use the bicycle to raise happy, healthy children. We walked a few parents through the current challenges of childhood, why the bicycle matters today more than ever, and the step by step process we have been through with our own son in regards to the cycling gear and strategies we used at each age of his own development. The parents loved the presentation and I was so excited to share what we have been developing for the last few years through research and contemplation on the topic. I can’t wait to do more of these presentations!
At the end of the day, we gathered up 12 families for a Buddy Pegs Bicycle Playdate in the front parking lot. Groms (kids) and their Ride Buddies (parents and grandparents) were all smiles as they ‘played’ on bikes, built their very own Bicycle Playground, and decorated souvenir number plates. The woom demo bikes were a BIG HIT and two lucky kiddos even left with new bikes to bring home.
As you’ll probably figure out from other blog posts about launching our tour, it has not been an easy undertaking. But, sharing this experience so early in our journey with inspiring people and their glowing children, on the grounds of a company we deeply admire, made all the effort worthwhile!
We can only hope that The Raise Riders Tour was sprinkled with a whole bunch of good karma from this event that will carry us into the unknown ahead! Thank you to Jimmy, Angelica, and the whole Patagonia crew for giving us this opportunity!
And of course... the tour was a highlight for all of us!
This 'Bubble Hockey' table monitors light from the skylights and dims the electric lights accordingly throughout the day. So cool!
The employee cafe preps food each day from the on-sight organic garden and of course the on-sight chicken coop!
And before we backed up... B had to squeeze in a few laps on the Bicycle Playground ramps!
The other day we were walking through a big ol’ box store to grab some supplies for our life on the road (I mean, have you seen the crazy adventure we’re on?).
After wandering through the overwhelming aisles of the toy section, we wondered “how much of this stuff will just end up in the landfill in a few months...or even weeks?”
We’re big believers that some of the best things in life are free.
But we also know that this time of year, giving gifts to the people you love feels pretty darn good, too!