This is very ambitious, but here goes

1 Comment

This is very ambitious, but here goes

This is an account of social media fulfilling its potential to do good in the world, at a time when that message is especially important. By Chris Lee.

Early in March I left my prized Alpkit sleeping bag - the one that kept me warm while cycling across Canada - on a train bound for Newcastle.

alpkit bag.jpeg

I'd thought it was a train bound for York until we'd been sitting in York station for about thirty seconds. The next three seconds involved me realising the train was about to move; that if it did I'd miss my important and imminent meeting; and that I had to get myself and my stuff out of the train sharpish.

The sleeping bag was mistakenly abandoned in the frantic fluster that followed.

"Bugger", I thought, when I noticed its absence after the train departed. Bound, irretrievably, for Newcastle.

I asked the platform attendant where to report lost luggage. "Try the ticket office", she offered.

I asked the ticket office if I could report lost luggage. "Try the kiosk", they countered. "We're LNER, you need TransPennine". The first allusion to the multi-company rigmarole I was about to encounter.

I asked the kiosk if I could report lost luggage. "Sure. What was it? What did it look like? Which train? Where did you get on? Which coach? Which seat?" They noted everything down in a book, and told me to wait for a call.

Which I did, all morning. The prescribed time came and went, while images of my suspicious sleeping bag package being detonated by The British Transport Police filled my mind. "See it. Say it. Sorted."

I took to Twitter in an attempt to expedite things. LNER put me in touch with TransPennine, because they operated the train I'd been on. TransPennine put me back in touch with LNER, because they manage the station at Newcastle. LNER put me in touch with Northern, because they manage Manchester Victoria where I'd joined the service.

By the end of this I had the call sign of the train when I'd been on board, it's new call sign, it's current location, and various other bits of information. But no further information on the location of my sleeping bag.

Then, later in the afternoon as I was beginning to abandon hope: "Chris, great news! We've got it! I've just spoken to the conductor and he's now back in Newcastle so it must have been on a trip today!"

chris-yang-746390-unsplash.jpg

I was elated. Getting it home from Newcastle was the next logistical challenge, preferably without me having to go and collect it in person: A return ticket to Newcastle from home costs about the same as the sleeping bag did new.

So this time I took to Facebook, and more specifically to The Yes Tribe: An excellent bunch of people with the tagline "where strangers are just friends waiting to happen".

"This is very ambitious", I typed. "But here goes."

I wrote a post recounting the spiel above, then asked if anyone living near the station could pick it up and send it down to me. "I will of course pay for the postage and add the price of two pints (or equivalent treat) for your troubles."

The silence I expected was short-lived. "I have a friend who will be passing through Newcastle late tomorrow evening so could potentially pick it up?" "I can pick it up on Wednesday / Thursday if you’ve not found anyone yet." "I'm going to Newcastle next weekend so can if no one has got it by Saturday!"

The offers poured in. Seven people, formerly strangers, all willing to go out of their way to help. A few days later the postman handed me my sleeping bag, safe and sound.

The YesTribe was founded in 2015 by Dave Cornthwaite, who by then had spent a decade being led by a personal motto, ‘say yes more’. Dave dropped me a line after seeing the sleeping bag post and was delighted to hear it had been returned safely. Dave said, “If there was ever a vision for the YesTribe, it would be that its members were mirrors of those trail or river angels who once helped me, a stranger, when I momentarily passed through their lives in the midst of a personal adventure. My belief in humanity was refreshed at each encounter, and now The YesTribe has blossomed into a community that puts kindness and decency first, whether in the midst of an exciting adventure, or the hardest times in life, or like this, a little moment where making someone’s day depends entirely on you willingly offering a few minutes of your day to help someone you’ve never met before.

“It should be noted that Graham, the YesTriber who helped return the sleeping bag to you, got in touch and said he’d like to donate the postage fee you’re sending him to the YesTribe. We’ll gladly put it towards a fund to buy a sleeping bag for someone who wants to go camping, but can’t afford the gear”

If you want to find out more, follow the YesTribe on Facebook and Instagram and visit the SayYesMore website.

1 Comment

YesTribe In Mind

Comment

YesTribe In Mind

So it’s day 55 on my 1250 mile solo running adventure from Rome to London. Yesterday I’d just completed the biggest running day of my life – a mammoth 54 mile day to arrive in Paris in style. I wake up and (don’t judge me) wolf down the most-calorific McDonald’s breakfast I could stomach before making my way over to the Eiffel Tower.

Besides climbing out of Rome on the 25th of August, the 5 days crossing the Alps and dropping down to Montreux which took my breath away, this was to be another landmark moment on this ‘mental adventure’ I’d never forget. But for one reason I could never have written.

I take the customary selfies on ground level, I grab my ticket, I join the queue (with heightened senses hoping I didn’t pong too much given that it at been a few days since checking in at a laundrette), I grab the window spot in the lift to capture the majestic iron tapestry on the way up. We climb a level, then another, then another on foot, and there it was, the 360 view with a picture-perfect day across the whole of Paris. As if that wasn’t enough in itself to blow my mind at this stage having ran every step of the way here from the firkin Colosseum.

But get this. Most people would spend 30 minutes maybe 45 on average at the very top. This overly-enthusiastic adventure-runner however was going to soak up 120 minutes minimum, so I did, until the time came to head back down to Earth but not before recording my customary 90 seconds of film on my iPhone to capture the magic. Honestly, 90 seconds, 70 seconds of which I was free styling until 2 rock-stars roughly my age caught my eye off to the right.

I figured I should probably say “Hi” seeing as they seemed particularly interested in my monologue. So I stop filming, I make sure the footage saved before catching eyes and introducing myself. They do the same, they’re German, they’re super positive (and clearly a great match as a couple), I confirm exactly what I’m up to before they say, unbelievably, “Wow awesome! Have you heard of The YesTribe?”

#Whaaaaaaaaaat!

Image of Dan on the top of the Eiffel Tower with 2 friends

We’re talking a 90 second window where this coming together could have happened… at the top of the Eiffel Tower… a coming together of this British Yes-Triber with Maria & Raiko Müller, Tribe Leaders of The YesTribe Germany. You could not have written it and this just verified once again that I was being looked after out there, that something somewhere was looking out for me every step of the way and helping me bring this whole adventure to life with more colour & magic & warmth & love & generosity & high-spirits than I ever know possible.

But less of the reminiscing, let’s break this thing down.

In 2012 – after 6 months of my mood elevating - I lost my sanity and ended up preaching from the central lane of a major motorway in Italy. I’d gone from believing I was the next Mark Zuckerberg of the mental health world, to the next Steve Jobs, to The Chosen One who was put on the planet to show the world how to slow down and follow their hearts. This was only going to go one way. Then came the time in psychiatric wards, the diagnoses of Bipolar Disorder, then the 6 months of crippling depression where I simply wanted to take my own life. Not a great chapter.

With a humiliating turning point in a supermarket looking ahead to 2013 – with unreal love & support from friends, family and the pros – I stripped it all back, started again, nurtured a much healthier & simpler approach to life ridding myself of life’s excess to focus on what truly matters most, started sharing my story and then witnessing the magic on each occasion.

Every time I shared my story 1) I felt lighter as a result, 2) I started building an amazing Dream Team around me, many of you reading these words are very much included, and 3) the very best thing of all, every time I shared my story it gave huge permission to others to speak up about what they were going through. We’re talking 9 times out of 10. We’re talking unreal and heartfelt responses, so much so that now feeling much stronger & healthier both physically and mentally though 2014/15/16 I knew I had to do something with this.

I knew I had to create a huge platform to share my story on a national level given the reasons above. And what better way to do that than by returning to Italy but this time frikin running from the Colosseum in Rome back to the frikin London Eye. In the words of Lightning McQueen (huge fan) “Ka-Chow.”

Image of Dan standing with his back to the camera, in a very straight road looking into the distance- wearing a bunch of colourful balloons on his back pack

So where’s this going? Where this is going is (tracking back) to starting my research, planning my route, taking a look around to see if anyone had done this before, then connecting with the one and only Miss Laura Maisey who it turned out was running the almost exact-same running adventure the year ahead of me (2016), then being invited by Laura to come and witness the magic that was the end of Elise Downing’s 301-day 5000-mile running adventure around the UK in Greenwich Park where I was to meet (take a bow) Mr Dave Cornthwaite and this majestic thing called The YesTribe.

The Yes is history.

Between now and then I shared my story at Yestival 2016 (things may have gotten a little emotional), soaked up every second of Rome To Home as if I were living in an oil painting for 65 days straight, stepped in to this next chapter in my career as a professional speaker & mental health activist and, almost in parallel, launched #AREWEOKUK (the Red Bull of the mental health world) whilst taking on the huge opportunity of becoming a SayYesMore Ambassador.

Image of Dan speaking at Yestival 2018

So there’s your context and here’s why this… tribe… matters.

I have a vision. A vision as vivid as that day at the top of the Eiffel Tower. A vision that all 66.6 million people across the UK have the courage, the support and the safe space to speak up when we’re suffering, to feel empowered to speak up when we’re suffering so that together we can show future generations how it’s done. It’s a simple vision, one that I believe in my core can be achieved in my lifetime. And as I said to Dave when talking through the Ambassadorship, if I believe in someone, some thing or some community who’s playing their part to create the world I believe in, then I’m here to promote them, to evangelise them and ensure as many people across the UK know about them, of which The YesTribe is firmly at the top of the list.

What does this tribe offer beyond the world-class supportive network of ever-growing Yes’s? It offers courage, it offers support and it offers a safe space. Not just to share our next crazy-ass adventures and new ventures but also our doubts, our concerns, our fears, our vulnerabilities, our anxieties and our lived experiences, whatever we’ve been though, together as one.

And that, to sign off with Dream team, is why every single living soul on our beautiful little island and beyond should keep The YesTribe… firmly in mind.

With love, DK x

Comment

Accidental Iceland- Part One

Comment

Accidental Iceland- Part One

As all great adventures do, it started with a pint in the pub. In my case, this was a pint of lime soda as I’d had a long day working at a school and any amount of alcohol would have finished me off in seconds.

This was actually my first proper meeting with the YesTribe apart from the ambassador’s training weekend back in February. Up until Christmas, I was teaching at a school in Dorset and had never been able to make it to any of the meet ups, so now that I had the freedom to be out in the big city ON A SCHOOL NIGHT and meet some like-minded folk in Covent Garden, I grasped the opportunity straight away.

I’ve been generally blown away by how welcoming everyone is in the YesTribe and everyone was soon asking about where I had been for my daily adventure.

My adventure for the day had been a bit lame to be honest and involved me walking from London Bridge to Covent Garden after the tube station was suddenly shut and I got claustrophobic surrounded by so many people who weren't wearing any outdoor kit.

A photo of the list of tube stations Eastbound from Covent Garden on the Piccadilly Line

So, what happens when you ask a table full of YesTribers what adventure to do that night. The ideas started rolling in, ranging from walking down the Thames and getting a boat back to visiting one of the city parks. I was on the verge of simply finding the nearest tree and climbing it so I could have an early night when the suggestions escalated wildly with the proposal of getting to an airport and spending the night partying in Ibiza (This may have been boss-man Dave’s idea).

A new type of adventure this may have been for me had I accepted, but I genuinely can’t think of anything I would less like to do for an evening than consuming cheap vodka from the bronzed body of mankini-clad male stripper. I was so relieved when fellow ambassador Tom Napper presented the idea of simply getting to the airport and picking the next available flight that I accepted the challenge before any more party destinations were mentioned. At least two people at the table had brought me a lime soda at this point and so it would be terribly rude not to now follow through. The game was on.

I was delighted when I extended the challenge to the table and Ian, who I had met about an hour earlier, discovered that he didn’t need to be in work until 10am the next morning. Downing our drinks we took a rapid selfie and said a hasty goodbye to the Tribe. Sprinting out of the pub, we headed in separate directions- Ian to swing via home to grab a bag and myself to make it back to my car in Golder’s Green to pick up my passport and then dash to Heathrow.

A very blurry selfie of SayYesMore YesTribe members Jen, Ian, Jenny, Tom and Dave in the pub before departure

Italy, Morocco, Scotland, South Africa... potential locations were reeling through my head at top speed. Where would it be possible to get a flight to at this time of night? Could I meet up with some of the foreign SayYesMore cohort in their home city? Would I survive on just the contents of my rucksack?

A tube ride, a two mile run and a cruise down the motorway later, I dumped the car in the nearest car park and sprinted into the departure terminal. I’d had a very quick look at the flights for the evening and knew that we might make it in time for the last flight to Ireland. As soon as I arrived, it wasn’t looking hopeful- the airport was deserted. My suspicions were confirmed by the final two staff left at the check-in desks who informed me that we had missed the last flight by half an hour.

A picture of Jen and Ian at the door of the departure terminal at Heathrow Airport

Catching my breath, Ian arrived from the train and I broke the news to him. We made the decision that despite the disappointment, we would still make the most of the evening and so picked the nearest green patch on Google Earth that wasn’t in the middle of a run-way to go and investigate.

Realising that neither of us had eaten dinner, the plan quickly changed to finding the nearest MacDonald’s to refuel and use the wifi. After a cheeseburger and getting kicked out at 11pm, we made our way to a local nature reserve behind a supermarket depot to bivvy out for the night (luckily I carry lots of spare kit in the car for work and so had plenty to lend to Ian!).

A photo of Jen and Ian in their sleeping bags bivvying in the woods

The plan for the morning was for me to drop Ian back at Heathrow so that he could make it back to work in time. It suddenly occurred to me, as I lay warm in my sleeping bag in the woods, that just because the plan had failed for the evening, it didn’t mean that an overseas adventure was completely lost. If I was going back to the airport to drop Ian off anyway, then surely I couldn’t waste the opportunity to still make it to foreign lands and back again before work in two days’ time?

Grabbing my phone, I got straight on Sky-Scanner. I had to make a decision as to where would be the furthest away, most interesting place to visit that wouldn’t jeopardise my career in the outdoor industry if my flight was delayed and failed to turn up to work on Saturday morning.

After a few thumb-scrolls, the perfect location appeared.

‘Book Flights Now’. I hovered over the button.

What did I have to lose?

I released the breath I hadn’t even realised I had been holding and pressed.

I was going to Iceland.

A screenshot of the Iceland Air booking conformation website page


Follow Jen’s trips on Instagram (@365daysofadventure2019)  or Facebook (@365DaysOfAdventure2019) and come and join me for a day!)

Comment

Founder's Blog: April Fools Day

Comment

Founder's Blog: April Fools Day

Back in 2017 the morning alarm went off and the first thing I saw on my phone jolted me upright with a blast of mischief. It was April 1st.

This was the second April 1st the YesTribe had enjoyed, but for some reason the 2016 had passed without any humour. This time though, no chance.

There’s a trick to an April Fools joke. It has to seem realistic but potentially far fetched. This is both tricky and easy with the YesTribe, a bunch of people who are very used to experiencing the type of stuff that the rest of the world might deem…”crazy.”

A good April Fool’s post should deflect attention from the randomness by offering individual participation. “Name our pet alpacas”, or “tell us what skills you have to build an island paradise.”

Crucially, you just gotta hope that the first comment isn’t ‘April Fools!” because that just spoils it for everyone. If there’s one rule to life, it’s to not call out the April Fools, it’s far cooler realising it and then playing along, stirring the pot.

Once ten or twenty people have commented, then new viewers get caught up with the excitement and you know you’ve won!

A group like the YesTribe is based around open mindedness and optimism. This comes with a double-edged sword. It makes a far fetched April Fools joke much more plausible, but at the same time when hundreds of people are getting excited about our new ‘project’ it’s hard not to feel guilty!

So, without further ado, here are our April Fools post from the past three years.


2017

Our first April Fools joke, and one that has stuck. Not a week goes by without someone still asking about our Alpacas. Rather cutely, in future years when people have realised the post is an April Fools they’ve answered in Alpaca terms, like… “oh, you could keep the alpacas on your island!”

The key to this one came in a picture I’d taken a few years earlier on a Trike trip across Europe. The SayYesMore flag in the foreground and alpacas in the background - genius!

How excited people were going to get, I had no idea…

Screen Shot 2019-04-02 at 11.14.48.png
Screen Shot 2019-04-02 at 11.14.21.png

And then the penny started to drop…

Screen Shot 2019-04-02 at 11.14.39.png

2018

With The YesBus up and running, there was no chance in cold hell that we were going to go through the process of creating another monstrous space. The bus was cool but it came with a lot of headaches and politics that didn’t quite fit our simple approach.

Still, the chance to add a (fake) different form of public transport was too much to ignore, especially for that one day of the year when lying is perfectly acceptable.

Screen Shot 2019-04-02 at 11.20.01.png
Screen Shot 2019-04-02 at 11.19.15.png

To be fair, this is a pretty cool train conversion. Maybe one day.


2019

It was all too tempting to take things to the next level this time round. Wonderfully, as friends suggested later, maybe after everything, this didn’t seem far fetched at all.

The bait was taken early on and this post became one of the most popular in YesTribe history. As the day drew on I spent half the time laughing at how into it everyone was getting, and half feeling incredibly guilty.

Screen Shot 2019-04-02 at 11.28.33.png
Screen Shot 2019-04-02 at 11.28.17.png
Screen Shot 2019-04-02 at 11.28.09.png
Screen Shot 2019-04-02 at 11.27.52.png

It was all getting a bit too exciting, eventually the balloon would have to burst, officially…

Screen Shot 2019-04-02 at 11.25.38.png
Screen Shot 2019-04-02 at 11.27.27.png
Screen Shot 2019-04-02 at 11.27.01.png

So, a big thanks to everyone who offered their help, boats, skills and support for our non existent island. Especially the lecturer at Warwick University who proposed that her students get involved with designing an eco-friendly building as part of their course.

It’s worth noting that the Ecocapsules mentioned do exist. They’re quite pricey at the moment, but they’re very cool and one day, one day, we might just have to make this happen.

Until this time time next year!

DC

Comment

Success through Failure

Comment

Success through Failure

The only way to succeed is through failing


The fear of failure holds many of us back from working towards our dreams. A lot of people get too scared to start anything because we are subliminally thinking about what can go wrong. Jago Hartland explores why the fear of failing is a much bigger deal than it sounds: it is the biggest dream killer. 

As a teenager far from the model student, I feared failing more than most people. The idea of failing and being laughed at held me back from trying harder in my studies and all activities: heck! Don’t get me wrong, I still continued with some of my biggest passions in art and sports but I always held back believing that it was better to be average at something and not try than it was to try hard and fail. Popularity meant more to me than progressing on me. At fifteen years old I was presented with a life changing situation which was always going to leave an impact from then on. It took a bit of time, but after my diagnosis with cystic fibrosis, the weight of failure was lifted from my shoulders and it was simple- the things that should no longer matter to me, didn’t. 

An image of Jago in a hospital bed, holding his thumbs up, wearing an oxygen mask

An image of Jago in a hospital bed, holding his thumbs up, wearing an oxygen mask

It wasn’t as if I woke up one morning and wasn’t scared of failure - on the contrary, I have naturally always been alarmed by the idea of failing like all of us. The only difference after my diagnosis was that I realized how precious our time is and that doing what we love and reaching for our goals is one of the most central things in life that we can pursue. In the space of a year, I went from being a student destined for bad exam results and being expended for setting off fire alarms, fighting and getting in trouble, to getting full A’s and B’s and being commended in my efforts all over. What changed? My idea of failure changed.

That year of my life may seem insignificant compared to recent accomplishments however I learnt my most valuable lesson. In that year of exams and cultivating myself, I failed more times than I had in any other year of my life. But wait, how did I fail more if I succeeded and bettered myself? The path to success is through failure. Once I failed an exam, it meant that I’d then revise, learn and succeed at passing the exam, and so on and so on. After realising that failure was fundamental to progression I challenged myself in as many ways as possible. Sure enough, I failed and succeeded and failed and succeeded. 

An image of Jago sitting on a sofa at Yestival 2017 with 2 fellow YesTribers

An image of Jago sitting on a sofa at Yestival 2017 with 2 fellow YesTribers

An image of Jago and a group of friends in a beautiful mountain region (with lakes in the background)

An image of Jago and a group of friends in a beautiful mountain region (with lakes in the background)

An image of Jago at Yestival 2018 standing in front of the Say Yes More sign in the field of dreams

An image of Jago at Yestival 2018 standing in front of the Say Yes More sign in the field of dreams

After realizing that failing is a step forward, the last five years have been hugely rewarding due to hard work and facing challenges. Fronting my own health scares has prepared me to be resilient in the face of failure. After being given the title of one the ‘Independent’s Inspiring Individuals’ in the National Happy List 2018 I was asked repeatedly by people how I managed to avoid failure and succeed. I explained that my most proud accomplishment has been fundraising just under £10,000 towards different projects and charities. This has included over thirty seven different events with numbers of the public ranging from one to ninety.

Some of the most demoralising failures I have encountered came from those events, 6 of those events made me break even with costs and only a few people turned up and another 3 of those events put me at a loss of over £30 per event. It doesn’t sound like a huge financial failure however when you consider the large amount of hours in organising, publicity and administration with charities: it was surely demoralising trying to work towards helping others and going wide of the mark. By this point, most people are shocked that charity events can fail after putting time and money into a just cause. Without those failed events and learning from them for future events and persevering, I wouldn’t have fund-raised my targets and I most likely wouldn’t have continued on to make the Independent Happy List: one of my proudest achievements. Learning from these events is one of the simplest of ways to describe how failing has helped me grow - other than explaining to get up every time you get knocked down.

An image of Jago at the start of the Thames Path, holding a banner saying “Cystic Fibrosis- a fight we must win”

An image of Jago at the start of the Thames Path, holding a banner saying “Cystic Fibrosis- a fight we must win”

The reason I am writing about my experience of failure is for a more recent motive. In the past five years I have taken on a number of charity and personal challenges that has pushed me further physically and mentally than I could have imagined. My most recent challenge was to run the River Thames of 186 miles in 6 days whilst sleeping homeless.

The 1st of March 2019 rolled around to start the challenge and I was well trained and well rested after a recurring knee injury. The plan was to cover 30-35 miles per day, eat lots and sleep rough until reaching the Greenwich barrier in London. As the first day approached, I covered 34 miles in dry weather and had eaten plenty and found shelter under a boat nearby until starting again in the morning. The second day felt sore on my legs and the drizzle made the path incredibly wet and slippery. I had covered 27 miles before having to stop due to the toll it was taking on my body, and after eating I slept the night in the closest church nearby. It was at 11pm, when I was struggling to sleep because of my legs screaming at me in pain, that I realised this challenge may be more difficult than anything I had planned for. An agonising third morning followed reaching 75 miles in two and half days down the River Thames and limping the previous 6 miles for two hours. Whilst sipping a coffee in a waterside café in Benson I realised that this would be the first event in five years that I won’t complete. 

Failing the Thames Path- an image of Jago sat on bench with face in his hands

The main thoughts that raced through my mind which I couldn’t shut off from was thinking about cycling to Paris, climbing in the Himalayas, running mountains and marathons and believing that the River Thames was going to be easier in comparison. I would be lying if I said I didn’t shed a tear whilst taking an hour to massage my legs and make the decision to end the challenge. The worse part was that my mind was 100% there but I couldn’t physically cover more miles, later discovering I had done much more damage to my knee's than I initially believed.

Making the contact with my sister to come pick me up and then let the public know that I couldn’t continue the challenge felt like my most colossal failure. My sister Poppy said to me in the car ‘You are the only one who will be feeling this way, even the people who support you won’t care this much and would prefer you to be smart and look after yourself.’ I understood that any supporters would want me to look after myself and be smart but the thing that stood out to me was how much I cared about failing. The same person that started these challenges five years ago would have been angry at the fact I was beating myself up for not finishing. 

Somewhere along the line I forgot why I started. Remembering that you should do something because you love that thing rather than to only focus on the completion is imperative to your pleasure in that area. The Thames was beautiful and the experience was amazing but my set purpose was more interested in completing the challenge – I failed to remember I was doing what I loved. There are many things I could have prepared better including: the planned distance, the weight of my rucksack, the terrain covering and how sleeping homeless will affect my recovery. I failed to take these factors into serious consideration and got carried away with challenging myself. Looking back already, I am proud to say that I have succeeded in learning from my mistakes and succeeded in reminding myself to do it for me as that is most important. The plan is to continue to face my challenges with a new relaxed approach I have re-adopted towards failure, which is succeeding. 

There is no path in life that can keep you away from failing at something. J K Rowling, the famous children’s author once said: ‘“Some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all—in which case, you fail by default.’ I hope we all take away the stigma around failure and that it is in the only way to succeed. 

Jago Hartland

Image of Jago standing in mountains wearing orange jacket and smiling

Comment