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This is very ambitious, but here goes

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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.

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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!"

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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.

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YesStories March 2018: A Guest Review

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YesStories March 2018: A Guest Review

Kevin Self offers a reflection of our monthly tales of adventure.

Last night I went to Yes Stories in London - ‘a night of inspiration.’ It was.

There is such a great feeling and a buzz being in a space like that - making new friends and catching up with friends wearing big smiles and sporting generous hugs and finding what they’re up to.

Then there’s that effervescent magic that rubs off when people have been up to stuff out in the world, filling their tanks of goodness and sharing what they got from it.

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Last night I learned that:

- no kit and no time are not an excuse to do an adventure. There’s a heap of fine capital cities within a few days of England, there’s weekends, there’s Halfords and if your shoes aren’t up to it there’s always emergency Tesco sliders! 🚴‍♂️🚶‍♂️🚴‍♂️

- that you don’t need a map nor a compass to reconnect with yourself and walk the mountain route around Mont Blanc. Just book the flight and go with it. And trust in yourself (unless wild horses are involved)🐴🏔

- that everyone has a skill. And if yours is repairing aircraft then it just makes sense to build your own aircraft, put a Herby goes bananas engine in it, and fly around the world. And don’t forget your mountain bike. And, it’s ok not to have a cause. ‘Just because you can’ works just fine.🛩🌎

- that there’s something magical about taking yourself off on a solo adventure, to experiencing the world, that rheindeer are great listeners and your biggest fears very rarely come true. That sense of achievement from relying on yourself when your tent breaks or you can’t see your hand in front of your face from the clouds.🏕🙂🙂🔥🙂🙂😀

- that we have a global pandemic of mental health and some countries, or some sub societies at least, are doing a better job at supporting it through conversation and community. And awesome people like Dr Sophie are willing to take on dealing with it.🤝🌍

- that just because you have to do it alone and Siberia has come to stay is no reason not to take on your adventure. If you’re going to do it. Do it. And you can never, ever be too daft - like howling like a wolf with all your lungs on the top of the snowy downs. And there’s no bears Hampshire. 🐻❄️🏃‍♀️

- that you are never, ever too old, unfit, unable to take on life! I learned that there’s a triathlon - Arch to Arc - run from Marble Arch to the coast, swim the channel, cycle to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. Simple. Or not. And I felt honoured to share a room with a man who at 49 became the fastest, oldest person to complete it, and still be so humble.🏃‍♂️🚴‍♂️🏊‍♂️🚀

Oh, and how could I forget, a special guest appearance by Ruth and Rhoda - these 2 aweome girls are going to smash a record this year cycling from Lands End to JoG on a trailer and trailer bike. Ruth is age 5 and Rhoda is age 3! That’s some pretty inspiring parenting Tom .👨‍👩‍👧‍👧🚲🚲🚲🚲

And overall... that people are kind, and generous in a pub in london on a cold Tuesday evening, and everywhere you open up to them in the world if you let them in.❤️

So what did I take away?

At all comes down to action

Commit, be, do, have

These stories could be mine. Could be yours in the future. The only difference is taking action now so that future doesn’t stay in tomorrow, just a nice chat in the pub. I had some great conversations around my ‘Home to Home’ solo run - from Godalming to Bath over Easter. I’ve got a physio triage today and next step is to find a cross country route that will avoid too much wayfinding. Simple 😊

Today’s % for my life is to commit - I am doing this and today I will set my route.🏃‍♂️💪🏅

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YesStories February 2018 - A Review

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YesStories February 2018 - A Review

It's always great when we add a closing bookend to Winter's hibernation with the first YesStories of the year. Andy Bartlett was back to host the event, and as usual brought a whole lot of energy to the room as well as sharing a tale about a cycle ride in Portugal which didn't all go to plan.

Andy defines himself as "a solar-powered energiser bunny" in search of warm adventures, and he reminded us that even if things don't work out it'll all be ok if you're willing to roll with the punches (and if you remember to pack your bike pedals in the hand luggage).

Follow Andy here

There are always a solid handful of people attending YesStories for the first time, and so many of them come alone. Awesome!

There are always a solid handful of people attending YesStories for the first time, and so many of them come alone. Awesome!

 

Stace Martin has been with the YesTribe since Year One and his confidence as a speaker grows each time he steps up to the front. His Christmas hiking adventure in Scotland became a series of falls, map-reading fails and what seemed like an eternal search for a non existent path, and Stace had us all in stitches with his dry one-liners.

"It's ok to have a slight sense of humour failure, especially when you've got one bent pole, you're tired and there's no path" Stace told us, adding that his rucksack is called Blue, because...you guessed it, it's blue. "I'm not the quickest walker, not the quickest anything really," Stace told us, which isn't all bad, we reckon. He was motivated to get himself out of what turned out to be a tricky situation with a determination to not be that person on the news getting rescued. Thankfully, for all of us, he made it.

Follow Stace on Instagram

 

Val Ismaili was next up, with a brief insight into a recurring knee problem which required a number of surgeries. Then, of course, Val embarked on a long walk, becoming the first thru-hiker of the new Trans Caucasian Trail. Not only did he give everyone a little nudge towards visiting the region (a group trip he'll now be leading for the YesTribe later this year), but Val's story was a reminder of just how fulfilling it is to make a contribution on top of doing something just for the sake of it. Especially if there's vodka involved.

A yes isn't only a gift we can give to ourselves, sometimes it takes someone else (in Val's case it was the TCT founder Tom Allen saying 'yes, you should come and hike the trail') - an important reminder that we're all in that position to push others forward by giving them a bit of positive support. Of course, the kindness of strangers is never more apparent than when we're in the midst of an adventure and the friendship Val experienced on his journey made the region even more attractive. 

Follow Val on his website and Instagram

 

Our fourth speaker was a new Outdoor Champion for Ordnance Survey, Matt Kettlewell, who has a ridiculously varied working CV from working with disabled owls in South Africa to babysitting little (big) hippos. Matt's sometimes hapless approach to life made his presentation all the more entertaining, and you know it's going to be good when you realise he's the type of guy who accidentally accepts a job offer in South Africa thinking that SA meant 'Suffolk'.

Follow Matt on Twitter

 

Each YesStories we enjoy a call-in from someone in the midst of an adventure, and this time round it was Frances Mills who announced her intention to run around the coast of Britain at Yestival 2017. Frances called in from her tent, which was shrouded in red because she couldn't work out how to operate her headtorch properly!

She's taking a wonderfully free approach to her journey, aiming to round Britain over the next three winters and only running, hiking and moving when she feels like it. Daily distance goals are not on her agenda and she takes decisions according to how she feels. Frances invites people to join her on her journey and is even open to a surprise visit - just not at nighttime!

Follow France's run on www.asiwandered.co.uk

 

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You can spot a maths teacher from a mile off, and Roshan Daryanani's slides and charts explaining her journey into doing something uncomfortable each day for 100 days were both insightful and hilarious. Roshan was full of perfect soundbites, "You have to trust yourself even when other people think you're a bit weird, and when you do something new you can't predict what's going to happen" and she left everyone wondering what their next little adventure would be. 

Read about Roshan's adventures on www.tinyadventuresinliving.com

 

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Ewan Paterson usually presents alongside his fiancé Katie but as she was ill he took the stage alone to talk about their round-the-world cycling trip. Ewan was full of insights, including the freedom of travelling light, learning about cultures and environmental issues by moving slowly and a reminder that you don't have to visit monuments and landmarks to really travel.

He wrapped up with a great flip, imagining that a British family were explaining to their friends that they took in an Uzbeki cycling tourist, fed them, gave them a bed and then sent them off the next day without any clue where they were going or what they were doing. It's the type of hospitality so many of us experience on adventures and this is one of the reminders SayYesMore tries to push regularly - wherever you live remember that if someone is cycling, kayaking, walking or skateboarding past your home on their way to a far off destination then taking them in for a night is such a valuable offering. 

Follow Ewan and Katie on www.thefreewheelers.co.uk

 

Dave Cornthwaite wrapped up with a short adventure story about not having a clue how to make a film and then updated us on all things SayYesMore, including progress with the YesBus, plans for a new Tribe-wide book club and a 2000 mile community ride on the waterbike he took down the Norway coast last year. Keep your eyes peeled on The YesTribe to get involved!

 

Thanks to everyone for coming, to Andy Bartlett for hosting and all our speakers for sharing their tales. Here's to an amazing year to come.

Signing out, Team Yes

Night night :)

Night night :)

 

Takeaways

You don't always need a path to have an adventure. 

Sometimes it's ok to have a slight sense of humour failure, especially when you've got one bent pole, you're tired and there's no path

I am a solar powered energiser bunny - Andy

Your plans don't have to work out if you're willing to roll with the punches 

It's great to make a contribution on top of doing something for the sake of it.

 A yes isn't always something we say to ourselves, sometimes it's a gift from someone else

Kindness of strangers often appears when conditions are bad. Vulnerability means we're open to this kindness.

SA does not stand for Suffolk!

Sharing an adventure plan at Yestival meant that I was accountable, so I couldn't back out - Frances Mills

Make decisions based on how you feel

You have to trust yourself even when other people think you're a bit weird

When you do something new you can't predict what's going to happen

What are we missing out on because we somehow feel awkward - it's worth being conscious of

Challenge to everyone - be completely honest for a day

You don't need a lot of gear to be happy, if it's not being used then get rid of it!

You don't have to visit monuments and tourist attractions to really travel

Next time you see a traveller, be kind to them. It means more than you could imagine.

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