Hey there, Dear Reader. It’s me, the Editor-in-Chief
The Dirt Lot has experienced a significant spike in readership recently. A number of new readers have reached out with questions regarding the site.
The one I’ve received most regularly is some variation of “What exactly are you trying to do with this?”
There’s no easy way to answer that, but with what I'm writing here, I will do my best to shed some light on what the ultimate goal is.
If you’re familiar with the dirtbag subculture, you know the beauty it contains and you also know the struggles. If you’re a civilian, I will put this simply: most dirtbags are happy, but also dead fucking broke.
The nature of our work and our lifestyle prevents us from ever really gaining a financial foothold in life. Dirtbags don’t typically complain about it, but they do certainly contend with it on a mental and emotional level.
Most folks enter the life in their early 20s, when the idea of responsibility is still just taking shape. The early stages of a career guiding whitewater or bouncing around the country as a ski bum are typically carefree.
That’s what I wanted when I became a nomad at age 25— to experience the highs and leave the worries of a standard life behind. But I’m nearing thirty now, and in light of struggles I've watched loved ones face, I’ve had to be a bit more realistic about my future, and take a long look at this whole dirtbag thing.
I want to float gnarly stretches of whitewater for the rest of my life. I’d like to climb, ski, and surf alot too. I want to build a life around these sports, the special people who first introduced me to the dirtbag world, and copious amounts of Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer.
But I also want to ensure that the people I care for never want for anything. As a man, it is important to me that I am able to protect and provide for those who place their faith and love in me. By that, I mean both friends and family. I don’t think I can do all that on a dirtbag river guide’s pay.
In the years since first becoming a guide, I’ve watched a lot of talented river folk walk away from the sport and the tribe that makes them tick, because it’s simply not sustainable. It’s fun to spend a majority of your year skiing and boating, but it’s not fun to wonder if you’ll be able to afford groceries after the water pump in your van explodes. Eventually, the struggle becomes exhausting, and tired dirtbags are forced to take an adult job they don't really want.
So, I started to think. A lot.
I didn’t like losing friends to cubicles. I hated leaving people I’d bonded with when we all hit the road to find work elsewhere at the end of a season. If I ever found a woman I wanted to spend my time with, I wanted to have the means to make her feel like a queen. The idea of being a father is something that appeals to me, but I’m still not sure yet. However, if I do produce offspring, I'd like to be a stay-at-home Dad, and still bring in some bread.
Writing could be the answer for me. But what about the tribe I’d come to care for so much? Sure, maybe I’d write a bestseller, but it wouldn’t be enough to keep everyone else afloat too.
Outside of my own aspirations as a writer, what if there was a way to keep everyone together, to keep the dream alive, to erase the negatives of the dirtbag life, and to provide my favorite folks and myself with a living wage?
I tend to let my imagination run wild, and so, The Dirt Lot began to take shape in my mind.
What you’ve read so far on TDL has come from me and me alone. But I want to build this thing out. I don’t want it to be about me or my stories. I’m just using my life and what I’ve experienced as a storytelling stepping stone. I want it to be about us— the dirtbags.
I’ve met a lot of special people since becoming a river guide. More special people than I ever came across in the civilian world, though those certainly exist as well. But in the dirtbags I’m closest with, I see incredible things, and incredible stories waiting to be told.
I also see a hole in the media landscape, especially when it comes to outdoors adventure content. There are the big budget adventure films, the top 10 lists, the location spotlights that focus on mountain towns overrun by Tesla drivers, and the same pandering, regurgitated, self-discovery or politically-oriented stories. But there is no one giving dirtbags a voice and doing it in an authentic fashion.
We are gritty, unhinged animals. Derelicts, degenerates and outcasts, we have found a home and a source of reassurance in one another. Together, we take on adventures that would make most people shit themselves, and we do it in half-drunk, impressive style. There's also an undercurrent of community and connection that runs through all that we do.
A lot of society looks at the typical river guide or ski bum and just sees a burnout. We know the truth, but the world doesn’t, because no one is telling the real dirtbag story.
That’s what I want TDL to be. I want our subculture to plant its flag, stake a claim, and make our truth known. And I want to make some fucking money for my friends in the process.
What’s the mechanism through which it happens though? Is it the writing? Podcasts? Video content? Probably all of it. But most importantly, there must be good stories, and the best dirtbags I know have a shit ton of those.
As I said, right now it’s just me. But I have a staff of writers who have all submitted original pieces of writing. They are all capable storytellers with unique narratives to share. When I have the mental bandwidth and time, those stories will be edited and added to the site.
So we’ll start with writing. Right now, there is a video series in development. If the long-haired Steamboat Springs hippie I’ve trusted with developing it can deliver, you’ll see that soon too.
Once we have the means, we’ll branch out further. When the time is right, TDL will step into the podcast world as well.
Little by little, one step at a time, we’ll build. First, the dirtbags, ski bums and climbers of the world will rejoice that someone is finally telling true, uncensored stories from their world. Then, I hope civilians will see what we do, take an interest in this peculiar corner of society, and throw their support behind us as well.
From there we’ll grow larger and more sophisticated. We’ll ink sponsorship deals with gear manufacturers and beer companies (lookin’ at you Pabst). We’ll put on events and parties— raft races, climbing competitions, and budget beer slug fests. We’ll monetize it, but never compromise the integrity or the dirtbag spirit at its core. A portion of proceeds will be set aside to establish a fund through which struggling dirtbags who lack health insurance can receive mental health treatment. We’ll create a sustainability initiative as well, organizing river cleanups across the country.
And we’ll tell true fucking stories, not bullshit about the best trail running shoes.
Once we do that, it will set some of us free to be the wild adventurers we are, without the financial worry that typically accompanies such a lifestyle.
At the beginning, I envisioned building a campus for TDL in a decade or so. But in the process of picking through what makes the most sense, I’ve come to realize that what I love most about the dirtbags I have in my life, is their relentless commitment to freedom. So, there will be no campus. Anyone involved in this thing will have the ability to work from wherever they want.
If they want to borrow boats and other equipment for content-creating purposes, they’ll have to figure out a way to get to our gear warehouse (which will be situated next to a stout stretch of whitewater somewhere). But other than that, anyone associated with TDL will exist where they want, when they want.
There will be a four-day work week, with no set hours. If employees deliver, if they create compelling stories and content, they’ll be free to make their own schedule. Everyone will be required to take off for powder days, high river flows, good surf, and when kids have birthdays, sporting events or graduations.
As we grow together, we’ll establish a college fund for children of employees. For kids who don’t want to do the college thing, we’ll provide a post-high school adventure stipend, so they can go out and experience the same things that impacted all of us.
We’ll take this subculture and ram it down the country’s throat, delivering stories from a world most of mainstream America doesn’t even know exists.
Perhaps more important than any other TDL goal, is peace of mind for the dirtbags I know and love. I want to turn to friends like The Whitewater Jedi or Homie Rafiki, hand them a camera, and say “Go paddle Gore Canyon, tape it and bring back a story. That’s your job now.”
And when the job is done, when their special personalities and abilities have shined, and a story has been told, they’ll return to their wives or their children refreshed. They will be at peace because they'll be doing what they love for a living. They won’t worry about putting food on the table, or about the brake job due on the truck, and they’ll be able to be fully present with the people that matter most to them.
For myself, I’d like to build it out, then step away and hand the reins to two special young ladies I know. One of them is styling whitewater by day, making whiskey cocktails at night and infecting Central Colorado with her relentless positivity. The other is doing some organic farming shit right now, figuring out which river she’s gonna hit next, and using her intellect and empathy to talk me off a metaphorical ledge any time my anxiety gets the better of me. The two of them are capable women built to lead, and in them, I see two badass chicks who have a natural ability to influence others. I hope they’re on board when the time comes.
After I step away, I’d like to put the majority of my time into whatever woman I decide to spend forever with, and if I have any, my children. I will still write and work on my own projects independent of TDL. As I write this, there are four different books marinating in my head, and two scripts. I’ll work on them in the early morning, and make time to do Jiu Jitsu and run around with my dog (who will definitely live forever).
But my main focus will be on the people I love each day. That's that I want most— to give my loved ones the majority of my energy, to always look at the things I need to improve, to examine my mistakes and missteps objectively, and never fail to fix them. Periodically, I will step away to ski or to paddle in other locations, so as to recharge my battery. Then I will return, ready to be exactly who the important people need me to be.
My life will have been built on storytelling, and I hope that when I die, those closest to me will tell the story of a man who put everything he had into being there for them in every capacity.
Does it sound naïve and childish? Delusional too, right? Outrageously ambitious?
Sure, to the more rational minds of the world. Rational people doubted Walt Disney too. But dirtbags aren’t rational. They’re passionate and persistent. They are the folks who have picked themselves off the floor a thousand times, lived on a strict diet of PB&J when necessary, and put everything they have into the people and sports they love. They carry on in pursuit of a dream no matter the obstacles in their way, and I am one of them.
I grew up resentful, angry and insecure. That part of me still rears its head at times, but because of the dirtbags and a handful of special civilians, I have been able to break most of that bullshit off. I have my moments of weakness, but I don't let them define me anymore, and I look at the grand vision for TDL as a way to justify the investment made by those who have changed me for the better. To thank them, I won't stop until this thing becomes a reality.
Right now, it’s just me and my writing. But trust that I will do everything in my power to make it grow, and add other storytellers who will one day serve to represent a collective voice for the dirtbag subculture. Too many good people have stuck their necks out for me not to. And if you ask the ones who know me best, they’ll tell you that when I really say I’m gonna do something, it gets done.
In less than 3 months, TDL has seen 4,000 unique viewers, been reposted on Unofficial Networks, and secured a sponsorship. We have a video series in the works, I’m figuring out who to put behind a podcast mic, have spent thousands of dollars on infrastructure (thank you stimulus), and am negotiating things that will rapidly accelerate our growth. I have worked my fingers to the bone to make all of this happen, rarely slept, and really only stepped away from the desk to spend time with people that move me in some way.
However, despite all the work I’ve put in, I am not Superman. I will make mistakes and fuck up along the way. I’ve already done it with TDL and have definitely done it in my personal life. But I am someone who will always, always, put the work in to see where I fell short, and work to ensure it doesn’t happen again. I hope you Dear Readers can see that so far.
All that being said, I can't make the vision reality on my own. I can promise you that I will always try to hit hard with what I write, and that I will bowl over anyone that gets in the way of this runaway train. That likely isn’t enough though. I need you, Dear Readers. I need the eyeballs of you and your friends.
If you believe in the dream and want to see the dirtbags get their voice, DM us @TheDirtLot on Instagram or send an email to TheDirtLot@outlook.com to ask for stickers. Post about The Dirt Lot on your social media. Subscribe to to our email list for weekly updates. Send a link to coworkers. Tell your friends. Spread the goddamn word in any way you can.
If you’re a dirtbag, I hope what you’ve read so far has resonated. If you’re a civilian, I hope you’ve gotten a glimpse into this world, and it’s made you seek out some more satisfaction, good people, or laughs in your own life. And if you’re a doubter, feel free to message me and tell me it’ll never happen. I’ll see you at the finish line, bitch.
Tell the big outdoor magazines we’re comin’ for that ass. It’s time for dirtbags to have a voice.
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