Field Notes from Mountainfilm Festival

A great story can move mountains. For 20 years we've partnered with Telluride Mountainfilm Festival to share stories that celebrate life, tackle global issues and offer creative solutions. That's what happens when art meets activism. Each Memorial Day Weekend, artists, filmmakers, athletes, scientists, activists and curious citizens descend upon the Telluride Valley for four days of problem solving. Every year Mountainfilm focuses on a timely and compelling theme with a series of presentations, panel discussions and break-out sessions. This year's theme was all about climate change, calling it "The New Normal." “We realized that the litany of scourges from climate change are already happening all too often. Whether it’s Zika virus in Miami or winter rain in Telluride, climate change and its terrifying impact has become The New Normal,” Festival Director David Holbrooke said. The New Normal has grown far beyond the symposium theme: It has evolved as a community-wide, grassroots effort to battle climate change and help bring the Telluride region to carbon neutrality. “We believe that The New Normal can be a reset in the way we live our lives here in Telluride,” Holbrooke said. “So for us at Mountainfilm, The New Normal is to work assiduously — and collectively — toward reducing our impact by using the power of story to fuel innovation and community building.” Our CEO, Gordon, and our VP of Design and Sustainability, Kate, headed to Telluride with their families to represent Toad and report back on the lessons gleaned from four days of frank and inspiring discussion about climate change. They learned that raising ocean temps just 2°C is the literal boiling point of our planet (check out Chasing Coral to dig in more). They learned about the benefits of evolving from industrial to regenerative farming (watch the short film One Hundred Thousand Beating Hearts for an in-depth look). They met Dolores Huerta, Cesar Chavez's oft-overlooked partner and co-founder in the farmworkers rights movement, and they learned that one of the most impactful solutions to climate change is the education of girls across the globe. Gordon and Kate came back inspired by indomitable folks like Eduardo Garcia (who survived 2400 volts of electricity in the Montana backcountry), Fred Beckey (one of the great OG climbing dirtbags), and a couple of groovy owls. Hearing the stories of people who have truly walked the walk is immeasurably inspiring and, take it from us, will stick with you long after you've left the theater. Now that's powerful storytelling. Mountaifilm's 2017 New Normal Tour kicks off this August, touring the world with the best films of 2017. The 2016 tour is currently on tour, promoting last year's theme, National Parks. Check out a few of our favorite short films from the current tour and keep your eyes peeled for official Mountainfilm selection films coming to Netflix and wide release later this year. Johnnie Jameson is a working man, a postal employee, a Vietnam vet, and a member of the Legacy Runners of the LA Marathon. What he lacks in speed, he makes up for in creativity - running backwards, dribbling a basketball - and gumption. Mile 19 conveys a lifetime of lessons in 10 short minutes. In 2015, Leal Wilcox competed in her first bikepacking race, the epic 2,745-mile Tour Divide, from Banff, Canada to Antelope Wells, New Mexico. She shattered the women's record by 2 days. Fast Forward follows Wilcox as she pushes her limits in the Arizona desert. Mark Twain said, “Whiskey is for drinking — water is for fighting.” In 1952, David Brower, the Sierra Club’s first executive director, launched a fight against two proposed dams in Dinosaur National Monument. 62 Years follows Brower's son, Ken, as he rafts Colorado’s Yampa River reflecting on his father’s legacy and the future of the American West. Every year Mountainfilm hits the road with the best of the best on an international tour. Click here to see when they'll be in your neck of the woods. Featured photo credit: Kristofer Noel