Lupe Fiasco shares the dream of SOTSK from the snow-covered peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro…
CLIMBER BLOG: Shannon Ethridge
I think this project ultimately picked me rather than the other way around. I was actually on a trip with Kenna and a group of mutual friends in early 2008 when the words about his vision began to permate into all of our hearts. He wanted to invite his friends to climb Kilimanjaro to raise awareness for clean water. It was a simple notion, yet Kenna knew the effort required action takers and that somewhere in his world of DOers…they existed. As many of my Angeleno friends jumped on board to help him, I naturally feel into the mix.
At about the same time, this Gandhi quote had taken hold of me: “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”
It had become a catalyst to begin my own search for a way to participate in a larger movement. If I could lead by example, would anyone follow? I had joined forces with my good friend Brooke Fedro to start a partnership that motivated creative, cause-oriented content with an action-oriented vision. Brooke and I knew we could DO something to help make Kenna’s vision a reality, but it was just going to taking some pavement pounding. A little hard work towards something you believe in is good for the soul, and I was ready to feed mine.
What was an issue that I had no sense of quickly became my passion. The stories and statistics surrounding clean water for humanity overwhelmed me. This was a massive problem! Each person I told sensed the enormity. But I knew that even the simplest of actions could make an incredible difference in the lives of others, so I stayed on the long train ride towards Kilimanjaro. When I invested in producing this massive effort, I truly saw it as a simple way that I could help those who needed it or a way to at least inspire others to do the same. If I just started to DO something…everything would fall into place…and that is exactly what happened.
SOTSK was a success because of the collaborations that will exist beyond our footsteps on that mountain, because of the community we formed that will take larger footsteps in creating a movement for clean, safe drinking water.
You don’t have to climb a mountain to change the world, but you could flush your toilet less often or volunteer for an hour and actually change a life.
In the words of Nike…JUST DO IT!
- Shannon Ethridge
We were blessed with an incredible support team…
THANK YOU Dickie Morris for helping create this blog!
While we were climbing up the mountain in Africa, Dickie was across the world in Virginia receiving our texts, tweets, emails and pics…often working through the night due to the time-difference to get the posts up…
SOTSK PROJECT COORDINATOR BLOG: Danielle Dreis
I landed in Hollywood after a year of travel to 30+ countries. My dream was to get into feature films, but the universe had other plans for me. When I first met Brooke & Shannon and learned about SOTSK I was alarmed by the water statistics they presented, but at the same time inspired by their dedication towards solving this issue. After learning about SOTSK every other project seemed trivial, I needed to be a part of this climb. For me, my involvement in this project has been the pinnacle of my career…being able to work in the entertainment industry on a project that’s for the greater good has been incredibly fulfilling.
The experience was incredible. I feel so blessed to have been a part of such an amazing event. The SOTSK team is inspirational and I feel very fortunate to know these people. But in the end, what I hope I’ll never forget about SOTSK, is that we can make a difference…every one of us has the ability to positively change the future of people in need. So little can mean so much. Every little bit helps. Awareness is the key to change. Understanding your impact and changing your habits will make a difference.
- Danielle Dreis
THANK YOU First Ascent!
We were hammered throughout the climb by rain, sleet & snow but beat back the elements and stayed warm & dry thanks to Eddie Bauer’s First Ascent new line of expedition quality mountaineering apparel and gear. The stuff’s amazing. It’s designed by some of the top climbers in the world, including SOTSK’s Melissa Arnot, and is incredibly comfortable & functional!
We were generously outfitted with baselayers, insulation and outerwear that featured premium European goose down and PrimaLoft. For most of the climb, our BC100s (the bright blue waterproof jackets) were our go-to outer item, made from 2.5 layer WeatherEdge Plus fabric which provided us incredible rain protection and also breathability so we didn’t overheat while trudging up the mountain. For cold nights at camp and the final ascent we wore our big Peak XV Down Jackets.
We all faced challenges while climbing to 19,340 feet. Thankfully our gear wasn’t one of them!
SOTSK SOCIAL MEDIA DIRECTOR BLOG: Azita Ardakani
A few months before SOTSK launched, I was visiting LA and met Kenna through a mutual friend. When the waiter came by, Kenna asked for water — tap water — and said he would reuse his glass…making it clear he places his passion about water into action wherever he goes.
I was working in Social Media at a software company and when I heard about the SOTSK campaign, it was everything my tech and cause-driven heart could ask for. A virtual and real life climb, scaled foot-by-foot, interactive with photos, videos, and updates right from Mt. Kilimanjaro – all in the name of the clean water crisis which kills a child every 15 seconds. I wanted in.
I began volunteering on the project from Vancouver, sending in ideas and strategy. Closer to the full launch, I decided I would regret it if I didn’t get wholly involved, even if it meant quitting my job and going to LA to work on it for a few weeks – I had no idea what I was getting myself into. When I arrived, I was thrown full force into SOTSK. We had Sponsors (HP, Windows, First Ascent, Revo, PUR), beneficiaries (UNHCR, Play Pumps, Water for People), celebrities (Jessica Biel, Lupe Fiasco, Emile Hirsh, Isabel Lucas, Santigold), activists, (Elizabeth Gore, Alexandra Cousteau, Kick Kennedy, Bernise Ang), educators (Dr. Greg Allgood, Simon Isaacs), artists (Jimmy Chin, Michael Muller) and we had the crisis of clean water. Connecting the dots between all of these people and platforms would become my challenge, telling the story and building momentum and awareness for a virtually unknown initiative would become my mission.
Summit on the Summit became the number one cause on Facebook. We hit 12 million impressions on one day with the “Wave” campaign that had various Twitter celebrity profiles “Go Blue” on their avatars and show their support for us prior to the climb. We built a 50,000 person community cross platform on Facebook & Twitter from nothing and we got our message out there.
I took away many lessons from Summit. First and foremost: this is about what we are made of - over 70% our bodies, to be exact, is made from water’s molecular structure of hydrogen and oxygen. Water is life - it dictates economy, equality & society. This wasn’t just a campaign, this was a wakeup call. If we do not save water at home, send water to those who need it, and keep educating ourselves – we have no one to blame but ourselves.
With the benefits of technology we can now create virtual communities of real people and rally together to make amazing things really happen. I got to be at the forefront of this for SOTSK and the fight is not over. I hope for every web-based initiative to go beyond the splash, the celebrity, and to keep the human reminder of the intrinsic necessity of what motivates causes. In a time where there is a plethora of initiatives to get behind, it is easy to see it as a check box to join a group and call it a day. Ensuring that there is an organic reminder and voice that resonates on an ongoing basis is a social responsibility. I learned that being clear, true and focused to what your ultimate goal is the best marketing strategy out there.
This fight isn’t over. We have a very healthy community of supporters (like you reading this) and we will keep you engaged, involved and a part of our mission to solve the clean water crisis!