Making American Adventurist Better: An Ongoing Discussion

Dave

Adventurist
Founder
Senior Staff
Editor
#1
This thread was started as a home for constructive criticism. I have cut and pasted a few posts from the OutdoorX4 issue 7 thread here, and deleted them there to allow that thread to stay on track and focus the feedback here. Thanks to everyone who cares enough to provide constructive criticism, and is willing to speak publicly of it in hopes of helping make this a better Community.

I think the standing rule in this thread will be twofold - don't make it personal and if you have a bitch or complaint offer up a coherent recommendation. Here is an example:

ISSUE: AAV sucks.

SOLUTION: Don't suck.

Here are the posts from the other thread - discuss :coffee
 
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Dave

Adventurist
Founder
Senior Staff
Editor
#2
American Adventurist was founded on telling it like it is. Quote, Unquote. So here ya go..............

Enough is enough, this Overland thing is so incestuous it's crazy. You....YOU, One person, followed by pitch fork wielding followers, not a community, bitch and moan about a product that in the free market one can buy or not buy, follow or not follow......then believe you have a right to rip them a new one under the guise of "I've been around" or "I'm from there" and get upset when the reply isn't to your liking.

WE talk about community, service, giving back.....but isn't it really trade in kind? ..You rip one group for #awesomefreeproductinreturnfor# and then neglect it in your own house.

This is not much different than the site that was left to create this group.

Dave, this forum is awesome, many like minded, this side of the pond people here. Thank You! The time and energy to keep this going and work/duty I can understand.....I started an organization a little bit ago to give back also.

There was a kid in Maine that wanted to drum up a little support for some AAV action in Maine, and he was ripped apart by a group here.......shut down....even kind of ridiculed....and it still continues....
Instead, as an organization maybe it would have been better to channel his energy and enthusiasm, get him involved, maybe he could have been a great active member....who knows.

When one posts with moderator by their name...one speaks for the organization, you may not like it, but that is the way it is.....

There is definitely a core clique group here........take a step back and take a good hard look

What is THIS organization? Does it involve I's and Me's....or Us's and We's?

Great job OX4 on the magazine, awesome local coverage, mistakes happen.

MSO, Thank you for your reply.

......and Me???? Just one voice hoping for a little clarity in all this....you want to be better than the other place??? Act like it.
I'm curious Matt - WHO (see bolded part above) are/were you calling out?

I didn't see ripping in the thread about setting up an event in Maine, rather guidance to steer the enthusiasm toward partnering with local groups that already host events up there.

Knowing what a group is capable of vs. Biting off more than it can chew is a fine line to tread, and can break small organizations if not handled carefully.

Trust me, I'm speaking from experience. What experience you ask? Well here is the skinny: my good friend Wes had an idea, which he shared around The campfire. His vision inspired me, and we started a company called Central Overland. We poured our hearts and souls into it, and sought out help from those we knew and trusted to operate it. Everything was on the up and up. Great community, great trips through areas that are known well by precious few. We overcommitted, and when life caught up we were stretched too thin. The vision was still clear and bright, but seemed farther and farther away.

See there was something that We forgot. All of this is a hobby, a passion, a fire. We weren't doing it for money (on the contrary we spent much of our own to build CO), we weren't doing it for the promise of some big payoff down the road. We were doing it because we wanted to, but when we grew tired and more and more of our time was needed by our growing families, we started to lose the fire, our hearts and souls needed by those closest to us.

We shut down the CO forum and stopped hosting trips rather than watch it die a slow death from neglect.

I see that same fire in American Adventurist. I hope that this community can learn from my mistakes in the past. I see many similarities in the labors of love that the founders of this community carry on to those at CO. Most people have no idea how much time and effort goes into establishing and keeping a community like this going. I certainly didn't know before I became a part of CO. If the members of the "core" group that you speak of stopped asking the tough questions and stopped completing the mountain of work that goes on behind the scenes, then AAV would cease, period. That's the reality, and it means that when the group who would be doing a lot of work to set up a New event says they aren't ready to commit, then it needs to be respected.
Mr Leary, thanks for the response and this is exactly what I'm getting at. I see the fire too, i can feel it and want to be a part of it. I've been to ONE MRV, cooked in the Dutch Oven Comp, but was left a little cold, as was the wife. This concept of AAV that was designed around a campfire is great, but maybe there is a little too much ownership. Take a look at the mistakes of other well intentioned groups and learn. Maybe when grooming the next generation of active AAV volunteers we could be a little more welcoming and providing a positive direction. There HAS to be a follow on group to the existing core....or else this Organization dies on the vine. No...I'm not a hug and everyone gets a trophy guy, and I have my experiences also. I want to be able to attend these events with my son...to show him some of the core ideals that I believe AAV was founded on.......I want to help and support them......I come from the same mold and some of the same experiences. But if the message that gets put out other than the one on the "Welcome Page" is "You weren't part of the original group..... so there" Then What? How do we grow?




"If the members of the "core" group that you speak of stopped asking the tough questions and stopped completing the mountain of work that goes on behind the scenes, then AAV would cease, period. That's the reality, and it means that when the group who would be doing a lot of work to set up a New event says they aren't ready to commit, then it needs to be respected." ...........................it wasn't a tough question that got this started........it was a disparaging remark.


Would be happy to discuss this around a fire, with friends, and a sipping beverage. I'll bring the bottle. But I won't taint this thread anymore.

Thanks for listening, Matt
 
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Dean

Adventurist
Founding Member
#3
I came to this community in 2013 as a refugee from the other place that shall not be named. As someone on a limited budget (student, small business owner, and currently unemployed) I don't have the cash-flow to run out and by the brand names, big trailer, or flashy RTTs, or take week long trips to all the fun fancy places. My last Jeep was an unimpressive '98 Grand Cherokee on a tiny lift with small tires. Yet, despite that, in many ways I embody the overland lifestyle and philosophy more-so than most. I grew up hiking, biking, floating, and climbing. I chose a Jeep for a daily-driver because it allowed me to do those things. I worked in the outdoor education field for over a decade teaching the preaching the values of responsible land use, environmental ethics, and outdoor recreation. Sure I'd love a fancy rock crawler, or to go rock racing with the King of the Hammers bunch, or Expo'ing around the world in a one-off UniMog... but I can't. I simply can't. I have to make do with what I got, which in the eyes of many just isn't good enough.

Specifically, what gets me most about any community are the subtle digs that I think are meant in jest but don't go over so. For instance, in that same "North East Rendezvous" thread idea I suppoed the idea of a North East event and made a comment about possibly not being able to afford the trip to NC which is why I missed it last year. You (Dave) posted for people to put their money where they mouth is and that it is over 2,000 miles and you'd be there. Sure, it's only 400 +/- miles for me, but that's still 400 miles further than I can drive right now. I'll all for putting my money where my mouth is, but comparatively, it isn't much. So comments like that really turn a guy off. Therefore I'm more inclined to just lurk and not post a whole lot.

In short, what frustrates me most is how those with big budgets and deep pockets make those of us who pinch pennies feel less than worthy to consider ourselves "overlanders" (let alone expeditioners). I know dozens of people who left the other place that shall not be named for that very reason. Coming back to AAF after being gone for a year I had hoped the small-site "feel" that made this place special in 2013 was still here, but after poking around the last few days I'm not 100% sure AAF isn't well on its way to becoming a surrogate for the other place that shall not be named. Seems like everyone's jumping on the bandwagon to be part of the "rebel" crowd but still walking the walk and talking the talk like we're all on the other place that shall not be named.

That said... what those of us without deep pockets have are time and skills. Time and skills we're more than willing to share. I made a suggestion about a possible location for an NERDV event and mentioned a lot of ways I could contribute time-wise in planning and scouting things to do. Now, I don't expect everyone to just on my nuts, but from the thread and other comments it just seemed like a "well, just go to existing events" response. Sure, okay, let's look at other existing events... I was asked to present a workshop at Overland Expo back when it started. I had to turn it down - and turn down offers each of the following years - because it's just too far a trip for me to make. I'd love to come to OEE and/or ARV and present a workshop. That'd really cut a chunk out of my budgeted expenses, but still doesn't cover it all. I'm more likely to hit a Mid-Atlantic/North-East/New-England event than I am something down south or out west. Sure, MAOF is in my backyard, and I hope to go this year, but aside from that there just aren't high-profile events like Overland Expo or the Rendezvous nearby.

That's just my two cents... because honestly, two cents is all I can afford to share right now.
 

Matt

Adventurist
#4
This came right after Tango's post about MSO's response. I believe MSO responded adequately, and respectfully. The word Really in italics ????. Picture of the Instagram with the hashtag stuff??? They said their piece, don't say you accept the explanation and then proceed to chastise and rip it apart, it makes for hollow words.

Matt
 

Dave

Adventurist
Founder
Senior Staff
Editor
#5
I'll reply here best I can given my limited time and schedule.

The comment about "putting your money where your mouth is" was not about money. It was about the fact that lots of folks have good ideas and want what they want but at the end of the day we only have so much bandwidth and some fail to realize just what it took to stand up an event in the east.

I get pinged for the same thing from the PNW, the Central Region, the South and the Northeast. There just isn't enough time in the day, or money, or bandwidth, for us to grow that fast.

We have an event in the east - ARV. I recommend folks in the east who can to support that event by attending. Maybe once that event is going well we may be able to expand. Maybe.

I'm not making any money here. In fact, this site is costing me plenty. I pay my own way to everything and those who know me know I could give a rats ass about what you drive or how much money you have.

If you came to MRV and didn't like the vibe or feel welcome I'd like to hear specifics.
 

woody

Adventurist
#6
Just the fact this thread exists speaks to the dedication and vision of ADVENTURE in what ever and where ever one pursues it.
 

Scott

Adventurist
#7
Ok, I wasn't going to chime in here, but I feel like I need to.

I was invited to this forum from a long time friend of mine, and I jumped at the chance to find a new Internet home. I was pretty active on another "overlanding" forum, that I'm pretty sure most of us are familiar with. My issue with that forum is similar to what others have stated. If you dont have the latest and greatest gear or vehicle, and aren't out every weekend "overlanding", then you are essentially shunned or looked down upon. This is strictly the feeling I got. My truck is certainly not the best choice for exploring, with a 160.5" wheelbase and an 8 foot bed. I also run a no name winch because I got it for christmas, and my truck is mostly stock with the exception of a set of front leveling coils and slightly oversized tires. The feeling I got from the other forum was that I was not worthy of participating because I don't have tons of extra cash to dump into the hobby.

So, I came over here, and was instantly welcomed, and felt like part of a family. Because of that, I attended my first drv and thwn mrv last year. And guess what, I made some lifelong friends on both of those trips, Dave,Mitch, Cris and most of the AAV staff included in that list. I enjoy the commeraderie here, and although my truck is pretty much stock, and I sleep in a truck bed tent with a self inflating air matress, I feel like I belong here. That being said, I also don't have the cash to outlay on trips every weekend, so I pick and choose what events I'm going to, and usually it's only 2 or 3 events or trips a year. Can you guess what they are? If you guessed MRV AND DRV you're right. I go to these events because I wish to support my "home" forum, and hang out with my friends. So I guess what I'm saying is, we all have our quirks, but if you stick around this place for a bit, you'll see that there is a stark contrast in the attitude here vs. Other forums, and I for one like it. So, in closing, thank you Dave and staff for making me feel welcome even though I may not have all the greatest gear or greatest truck. I am very appreciative of your friendships and this forum.
 

100acre

Adventurist
#8
These guys have put up with my bs for a while and I imagine you can imagine what it's like. Opinions, everybody has one. We at times seek the opinions of others whom we respect and hope what we hear brings joy to our ears. Often times it does not. Some peoples opinions are like bad onions and we wave away the scent of disagreement. We as humans are all different yet similar in so many ways. We are here together currently in this way of life sharing both good and bad experiences related to adventure. It's the figuring out how to best accomplish the idea of everyone getting along without being PC because society says you're supposed to. Many of us don't care too much for it. It isn't real and feels censored. Who wants that? We're Americans, and damn proud of it.
The old site was very informative and still is to many degrees. There are many people from many walks of life whom have different experiences, so they represent their own belief systems and some if not many enjoy sharing their opinions along with the information to hopefully help guide the Noobie and 'the misled' (according to them anyway). So much so, that many are turned off by the negative banter. Being defensive is a natural instinct, it has helped us to survive many thousands of years. So, do we develop a hardened hide and roll with the cannings or become extinct because we weren't strong enough. Or do we try to find a common ground and learn to support each other in the adventures we seek, wether we agree or not about whose opinions about the best onions are?
You will find more real and honestly responsive people here on this forum than I've found in this current host of society and we are a proud people. We have the common ground. Let our paths move us forward into adventure.

And Dean if you can get to here from there and ever need a ride to another there...I'm sure one of us would be more than willing to give you a ride as long as you're not too embarrassed to ride in my stock F150 with a bunch of imaginary friends...:)

Dave, I need a Gnome emoticon...

End of the beginning of the end of the beginning of Nod, the solar cow tortoise.
 
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TangoBlue

Adventurist
Senior Staff
Founding Member
#9
This came right after Tango's post about MSO's response. I believe MSO responded adequately, and respectfully. The word Really in italics ????. Picture of the Instagram with the hashtag stuff??? They said their piece, don't say you accept the explanation and then proceed to chastise and rip it apart, it makes for hollow words.

Matt
Matt - thanks for your comments and I'll explain them for all to ponder. I completely agree that Jason responded in a courteous fashion and I sincerely believe I did too. The italicized word really was used purposefully and is an acceptable use in composition to underscore the importance of the word. It was italicized to emphasize that although MSO is a member of the forum the bulk of their content only serves to introduce their video productions. They have received several cautions from Dave and others of us that bloggers content must be more than an introduction and a link to their most recent adventure and blog. That's clearly established in our forum rules and has been for quite a while. Some agree to follow those guidelines and have adjusted their content because they get it - they are interested in the development of this community and likewise embrace our shared goals. Others don't and have since moved on, or worse, persist in flaunting the rule. When that is done, it's a pretty clear indication that the intent is self-promotion and not in the interest of growing this community.

I believe you've taken out of context the Instagram snapshot. You recall the preceding paragraph discussed "perception is reality," and the utilization of social media. The Instagram post was included because it clearly indicated the intended audience - all manufacturers of equipment MSO has been soliciting for sponsorship, which is no secret. Any observer would conclude the same thing or potentially worse - pandering at the expense of those they purport to represent, or exploitation. Certainly a moniker that MSO has to be very cautious of.

In your final sentence Matt you claim my acceptance of Jason's explanation was hollow as I proceeded to, "chastise and rip it apart." Well, you are dead-wrong Matt. Accepting their explanation without feedback based on specific examples would truly be hollow. Worse, it would be disingenuous... I'll even go so far as to say cowardly. Let me give you an example from that original post... you'll note my comments were for all to see, nothing behind closed doors -- and I solicited for additional remarks. I also directed my comments towards the individuals responsible for the publication and article, and I did so courteously and with specific rationale or examples. I even included some self-deprecating humor to minimize the impact or my critical review - because you know we just can't say what we mean for fear that others might take it out of context - gratefully the majority of readers got it... you'll see that by the number of references made to my cane or fellow former guests of Holiday Inn Express (including the author of the article I questioned). We concluded our exchange respectfully with the agreement to disagree and the promise of coffee or cocktails next May in Arizona. I genuinely look forward to meeting James and seeing Frank again.

Now, if you take the time to re-read that onerous thread I never mentioned anything about MSO - that concern was voiced by another member - and reasonably so - it was originally in the "Bonfire" section (see forum rules). My response was in fact directed to MSO after they had responded in what I viewed as a disparaging and objectionable manner - something they had invited on themselves, especially when they deflected criticism of their practices onto OutdoorX4 and deferred to provide details about their questioned activities.

So Matt, I've taken great pains to explain in detail the motivations for my words and actions -- I don't expect you to accept or reject them. From your earlier post in the original thread where you made veiled accusations to members of the staff and non-specific dissatisfaction about your experience at a Rendezvous event, I appreciate that you took the time in this thread to direct your comments to me, directly, and I hope you tell us more about your observations. From the tenor of your two posts I suspect you have more to share.

But I really feel compelled to bring this to your attention - it's like fingernails slowly drawn across a chalkboard to me... the use of multiple punctuations in a sentence is not done. Ever. :tango (The Chicago Manual of Style) Except by teenage girls - they do it - a lot!!! :D
 

Matt

Adventurist
#10
Tango, I just checked, I'm not a teenage girl! Thanks for the response. I do have more to add, but first I must cook dinner for the family. I'll be back in a bit.

See how I dodged that cane swing!

Matt
 

Al Swope

Adventurist
Founding Member
#11
I have no criticism for the site. I think it's great. I even find reading this thread fun. One thing I'd like to see more of is people throwing out trip invites. You don't have to wait for a catered affair, complete with door prizes, to go on an adventure. The best trips I've done did not include a t-shirt. 5-6 guys say online,"let's meet here, on this date." Look for me to post some paddling trips this spring. I guarantee fun.
 

TangoBlue

Adventurist
Senior Staff
Founding Member
#12
Tango, I just checked, I'm not a teenage girl! snip
Matt
Oh. That's actually a relief since it would be kind of creepy at my advanced age. If I was only 40 years younger... but please don't add too much. There is a 3 hr time difference and my enthusiasm wanes.
 

Dean

Adventurist
Founding Member
#14
And Dean if you can get to here from there and ever need a ride to another there...I'm sure one of us would be more than willing to give you a ride as long as you're not too embarrassed to ride in my stock F150 with a bunch of imaginary friends...:)
That's why I'm trying to get active in the community again. Missed out on too much last year and this year I want to be active... even if that means sticking out a thumb, flashing some skin, and shucking taters as camp cook to earn my keep.
 

Dave

Adventurist
Founder
Senior Staff
Editor
#15
I'd like to clarify a bit beyond what I posted earlier because I think it needs to be said:

Let me tell you some of the things that turn me off.

ARV had about a 50% attrition rate last year. Many people in this esteemed group, and in the "industry", who had clamored for years for me to bring a Rendezvous style event to the east FLAKED. Yes, the timing of our event and OX east was unfortunate last year and won't be repeated if we continue ARV but the list of folks that flat blew us off last year is long. We had far less support for ARV in 2014 than I'd like to admit. Quite honestly it was a monumental feat that we pulled it off at all, and by the end of ARV (after DRV and MRV) I was financially and physically exhausted and wondering if I should even do all this again in 2015.

So in some ways it does grind my gears because I know that people clamor for this and that but when it's go time, they may or may not even give a damn and most are all talk in my experience. So pardon my lukewarm interest (being honest) in another eastern event until I know for sure ARV, and AAV, have truly taken root in the East.

And a note about the staff that I have here. Trusted. Carefully screened. Committed. Honest to a fault. That's who I've surrounded myself with here and we can call it a clique or whatever you like but at the end of the day the decision is mine who gets inside our "Circle of Trust" and who I seek counsel from. And I'm not about to muzzle them or tell them that they can't post because "they represent AAV". The OX4 thread, and the MSO debate, was healthy for the Community in the long term. Contrast that with the "sponsors first" and bought and paid for approach elsewhere and I'll take a good honest open debate without fear of retribution and a Members first mentality any day.

That is why I chose the staff we have. Because I don't have to worry about what they say. I trust them and I know that even if they disagree with me or a Member (and oh boy have we all butted heads behind scenes!), their main focus is the best interests of this Community. And it is a Community we're building here, anyone who thinks otherwise hasn't been paying attention because it's NOT about me or the staff or money or any other egotistical BS. Everyone is here for the right reasons IMHO.

I have two big hammers on staff - Haggis and Tango. They stand the watch. And I know they rub people the wrong way sometimes but they have my back. I depend on them to keep it real here and yes, they are a bit prickly and very opinionated, but their intellect and experience and keen wit far outweigh any negatives for me. Who better to have at your side, swords drawn, as you wade into a sea of lurkers and trolls? (this is said in jest)

:spartans:hoplite :spam:bigtroll
 
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Dave

Adventurist
Founder
Senior Staff
Editor
#16
That's why I'm trying to get active in the community again. Missed out on too much last year and this year I want to be active... even if that means sticking out a thumb, flashing some skin, and shucking taters as camp cook to earn my keep.
Funny you say that, I showed up at ARV with a backpack and some Mountain House meals and MRE's. People were offended if I tried to eat them (Tango)... nobody goes hungry at a Rendezvous.

Ask Justin (Gear). I've watched him at events and runs for years - cup and spoon in hand and eats here and there and never cooks... living the dream :lol
 

100acre

Adventurist
#17
That's why I'm trying to get active in the community again. Missed out on too much last year and this year I want to be active... even if that means sticking out a thumb, flashing some skin, and shucking taters as camp cook to earn my keep.
I prefer my Taters " skin attached "
 
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#18
Thanks Tango and Haggis for your responses in the thread and via PM. I really do appreciate your feedback. While we continue to travel, film, share stories and represent the people that support us over the next few years, I aim to respect the AAV forum rules when we post in the future. Whether it's a video, picture or trip essay; the true story is told by each individual's unique interpretation.

As I'm sure I'll see many of you on the road at one point, I'd rather offer a fist bump, share some laughs and shotgun a beer instead of taking some wizard's cane across the head. Happy trails and only the best wishes to everyone, cheers guys!
 

Matt

Adventurist
#19
I believe you've taken out of context the Instagram snapshot. You recall the preceding paragraph discussed "perception is reality," and the utilization of social media. The Instagram post was included because it clearly indicated the intended audience - all manufacturers of equipment MSO has been soliciting for sponsorship, which is no secret. Any observer would conclude the same thing or potentially worse - pandering at the expense of those they purport to represent, or exploitation. Certainly a moniker that MSO has to be very cautious of.

In your final sentence Matt you claim my acceptance of Jason's explanation was hollow as I proceeded to, "chastise and rip it apart." Well, you are dead-wrong Matt. Accepting their explanation without feedback based on specific examples would truly be hollow. Worse, it would be disingenuous... I'll even go so far as to say cowardly. Let me give you an example from that original post... you'll note my comments were for all to see, nothing behind closed doors -- and I solicited for additional remarks. I also directed my comments towards the individuals responsible for the publication and article, and I did so courteously and with specific rationale or examples. I even included some self-deprecating humor to minimize the impact or my critical review - because you know we just can't say what we mean for fear that others might take it out of context - gratefully the majority of readers got it... you'll see that by the number of references made to my cane or fellow former guests of Holiday Inn Express (including the author of the article I questioned). We concluded our exchange respectfully with the agreement to disagree and the promise of coffee or cocktails next May in Arizona. I genuinely look forward to meeting James and seeing Frank again.

So Matt, I've taken great pains to explain in detail the motivations for my words and actions -- I don't expect you to accept or reject them. From your earlier post in the original thread where you made veiled accusations to members of the staff and non-specific dissatisfaction about your experience at a Rendezvous event, I appreciate that you took the time in this thread to direct your comments to me, directly, and I hope you tell us more about your observations. From the tenor of your two posts I suspect you have more to share.
Tango, before my post gets stretched into veiled accusations and non-specific dissatisfaction (I get the barbs) let me elaborate. But before I do, let's remember "Perception is Reality"

My disappointment in MRV was in how new members are actually welcomed. We knew no one, a few introductions would have been nice. Yes, I'm a big boy and I can make my own friends (or upset a few). It didn't sour us to not want to come back, just disappointed. I'll be at DRV15 unless I get shunned for my views. And the accusations? They aren't. Everyone is hunting for sponsors for one thing or another, nothing wrong with that. I get it, but don't begrudge one group for giving their sponsors airtime and look away when AAV does it.

I'm not going to change your mind, I understand that. And I understand I'm one voice out here. AAV is doing some great things. This is a better conversation to be had in person, otherwise it will just go down a rabbit hole. I'll be in AZ in May and I'll pour you a drink.
 

Dave

Adventurist
Founder
Senior Staff
Editor
#20
OK - Bullshit

:bs

We had volunteers sitting at the check in table and each and every RSVP got the same welcome on arrival. In fact, lessons learned at DRV and MRV 14 became SOP for check ins. Our folks worked their asses off to make this stuff happen, to sit there at that damn table, so people could mingle and have fun. My staff does a damn good job.

I'd love to hear your suggestion to make things better.
 
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