INTERNATIONAL DAY OF ACTION and the mARTch CONTEST hosted by Dirt BagPaddlers

Today is the DAY! The International Day of Action! And the day we announce the winners of the Dirt Bag Paddlers mARTch contest in support of International Rivers! Enjoy these works of art from dirtbags around the world, then get outside and do something to show your love for clean free flowing rivers TODAY!

It’s The 18th annual International Day of Action! Today, Saturday, March 14. There are a bunch of awesome events happening:
Communities living around the Magdalena River in Colombia will begin their campaign called “El Rio de la Vida: El Movilizacion por la Defensa del Magdalena” (The River of Life: The Mobilization for the Defense of the Magdalena) on March 14. Their campaign mobilizes community members to resist the Master Plan for Development of the Magdalena River that threatens the wellbeing of the river and the surrounding communities.
Indigenous Peoples Rise Against Jalaur Mega Dam in the Philippines! This event is part of the international campaign, 1 Billion Rising for Revolution. Indigenous peoples will perform the 1 Billion Rising dance at the Jalaur River calling for the project’s termination.
Many environmental and cultural associations in Resana, Italy will participate in a public initiative for the defense of small rivers. The project, “Adopt a River of Your Country,” consists of two community meetings to discuss destructive development projects (February 27th and March 13th), an essay-writing contest for secondary schools, and an Ecological Day along the Muson Sassi River (March 22nd).
The Beartooth Paddlers are having a downriver kayak race through the upper Wind River in Washington State, US to promote the river corridors and stewardship. The following day is a team kayak race through the Farmlands section of the White Salmon River to promote awareness of keeping the streams that run off Mount Adams clean and free flowing.
We’ve already received photos from our friends in Pakistan! The Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum launched their 14-day campaign to protect the Indus Delta in Pakistan on March 1. Check out their photos on our 2015 International Day of Action for Rivers Flickr album!
Don’t forget to send us your photos and videos by emailing or sharing them with us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and including #RiversUniteUs! 
If you haven’t seen it already, we’ve unleashed our new global events interactive map on our website! Learn about the different events happening all around the world and register your event through our new online form. 
Can’t attend an event in person? You can still show your love for rivers! Take a Rivers Are in Our Hands photo with the hashtag #RiversUniteUs! Share them with us on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, or email them to [email protected]
Since 1985, International Rivers has been at the heart of the global struggle to protect rivers and the rights of communities that depend on them.
We work with an international network of dam-affected people, grassroots organizations, environmentalists, human rights advocates and others who are committed to stopping destructive river projects and promoting better options.

We seek a world where healthy rivers and the rights of local communities are valued and protected. We envision a world where water and energy needs are met without degrading nature or increasing poverty, and where people have the right to participate in decisions that affect their lives.
Based in four continents, our staff has expertise in big dams, energy and water policy, climate change, and international financial institutions. We support partner organizations and dam-affected people by providing advice, training and technical assistance, and advocating on their behalf with governments, banks, companies and international agencies. The focus of our work is in Latin America, Asia and Africa.
International Rivers
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International Day of Action

Inspired by these efforts, DBP hosted an art contest, turning boring old March into the fabulous fun mARTch! We wanted to use the universal medium of art to help express the paddling community’s love of our rivers to our friends and family who don’t quite relate to our passion. We need everyone’s help to ensure that our rivers remain free and clean, and to also begin to clean up and undam the rivers that have not been cared for in the past. Our tiny community, although world wide, cannot hope to enact real change without the other 99%. 
So we hosted the mARTch contest. The response was overwhelming to us. Each and every day entries came in. We are much pleased to share all of these wonderful works today! 

Travis Hinshaw won BEST IN SHOW after winning the WOOD CATEGORY with a series of cool pieces illustrating creatures of water and flowers. “I am a self taught artist, and for as long as I can recall I’ve been imagining, daydreaming, and drawing.  My art is a product of my constant proclivity for envisioning or creating something, and my fascination with the natural world. It is my intent to inspire interest and appreciation for our surroundings, as well as our interconnectivity with, and interdependence on,  the sea, the mountains, and the creatures we share them with.  I work with various materials, most recently in pen and ink, prismacolor pencil, and acrylics. I  enjoy working with wood in the art form of pyrography, the process of burning images into wood or other surfaces with a heated tool. Although pyrography can be a painstakingly slow process, it can produce textures and details that make it worth the long hours of meticulous effort.  Some of my favorite artists are Gustav Dore, J.D. Mayhew, Ray Troll, Rick Griffin, Alphonse Mucha, and Robert Lynn Nelson.

Artist/paddler Tristan Woody, who shares “Misty Morning at Clear Creek”, an etched glass interpretation of Jack’s Rock Falls, placed first in the OTHER category. 
“The Cumberland Plateau is my favorite place to paddle and camp. I’m a Tennessee native and have had the good fortune to be surrounded by fellow river enthusiasts for several years now. There is nothing quite like the feeling of preparing your body and mind to (try to) launch off a falls. Painting has always been my forte but I’ve recently picked up sandblasting. This is my first attempt, I hope you enjoy it and it aids in the awareness of keeping our waterways clean, particularly the Obed/Emory system.”

Painter Rachel Soracco, who submits three paintings, entitled 1- Marr, 2- The Drop, 3- Dat Flow, won the PAINTING category with “Marr.”
“I’m a college senior finishing out my last semester in the North Georgia mountains. For me, the experience of whitewater kayaking is unlike anything else in life.  It is beautiful and intense in an almost indescribable way.  Whitewater has developed into a passion of mine over the past few years, while art has been with me as far back as my memory goes. In my work, I get to bring these together.” 
     “Choosing the river as my subject has allowed me to explore, from a purely visual standpoint, its erratic, flowing nature, how it is constantly in motion, and the intense depth of color visible in the water. As all river enthusiasts know, the experience of whitewater kayaking is one that is closely entwined with the heartbeat and life of the river. In these works, I am attempting to recreate this life through the use of line and color. I hope to give the viewer a piece of the beauty that I experience when I explore both art and the river.”
     “Can you also throw in that I have the greatest dog, Bear, and that I’m really pumped to camp my way out west with my dad after I graduate college?” YES WE CAN  🙂 “A huge thanks to DBP for this awesome opportunity to share my work and passion! Here’s a link to my work: https://ung.digication.com/rachel_soracco/Home

Chris Doing aka The Garrulous Sherpa is an amazing photographer who submitted this photo, entitled “Hurricane Falls,” which took first place in the photography category. Chris is a paddler as well, whose work has been featured in art galleries and also an article in DBP MAGAZINE ONLINE. He is well known for his work as American Ruins on Facebook and on Instagram. 
“Catching a thing of beauty… is like finding a faerie and giving a glimpse of that beauty to someone is where the reward lies.”

West Virginia paddler Katie Gosses submitted “Surfing Partners,” a pen and ink drawing based off of a photo, “my friends Max and EZ surfing it up.” She came in first place in the DRAWING category. 
Katie tells us, “I make art of the adventurous sort. Primarily  focusing on watersports, I like to show the movement and the enjoyment in the action. I love to immortalize someone in their finest hour, whether it be an awesome surf, a nasty cartwheel, or teetering on the edge of that huge drop!” She’s always accepting commissions as well of course. If you’re interested message us and we’ll put you in touch. 

Hannah (HANN-GNAR) Groves of the Gnar Fairies, a paddler and artist from Boone, NC entered “Flower Mural Paddle.”
 “Art has always been my number one passion in life,” she told us. “I mean I feel like I was born with a pencil in my hand.  I love using it as a form of communication and therapy.  I can communicate my mood, my personal triumphs and challenges, my other passions, or just fleeting thoughts. Through that release, I can feel more at peace with myself and I can explore the world in a very personal way.”
“For awhile now my passion for art has been becoming entwined with my growing passion for whitewater.  The river has become a never ending source of inspiration and challenge.  Many of my recent pieces have been river related. Either through subject matter or use.” 
“The pieces that I can’t wait to see on the river are the decorative paddles I have designed. My latest one was for a friend and fellow raft guide. I did a mural on either side of her guide stick. The murals were both full of different flowers and herbs. I loved designing this paddle because I wanted to make it just for her and be inspired by her passion for gardening and herbal remedies.”

Hannah also entered this huge hei matau, measuring 5 ft tall, about 3 ft wide and about 5 inches thick, into the mARTch contest in the wood work category. Constructed of multiple layers of plywood, it’s almost 50lbs, “I think my boat is easier to carry and I have a Nomad 8.5 !” she says. “That thing was a bitch to make. I had just gotten done carving an actual hei matau for my ex and I was inspired by the movement of the pendant. I love the story and symbolism behind hei matau so I wanted to protray how important this symbol is to the water community. So I made it huge.” 
She continues with the meaning of the symbol, “Well the Maori people say that the North Island of New Zealand (Te Ikle a Maui) was once a fish that was caught by a great legend Maui. He caught the fish with a woven line and a hook made from the jaw bone of his grandmother.  Which helps introduce the huge importance fishing is to the Maori culture.  They were so reliant on the ocean for food and trade that they would wear the hooks as a tribute to the north island and almost as a salute to the contribution of the sea. The hook soon became a good luck symbol for safe passage over water.”

Photographer Zé Assis of Brazil entered this short series of photos to highlight his home city and it’s lifeblood, the River. “This is the River Paraibuna, and my beautiful San Luis Paraitinga seen from above.” He took a shot from the same spot 12 hours apart .”I made this photo last night of my great little town.”
It is important for Zé to show his love of the city life, and also of the beauty of it’s river which is right there, wild, to be enjoyed. “I am in love with street dogs and here in my city there are several. I love photographing them, they are my friends, and on this day I saw a group of children while making a tour of the city. I saw the scene and photographed.” He and a friend also were caught on film putting on the river. “Here my friend and I walked to a river within a protected area. They wanted to arrest us.” True Dirtbaggin! Poach the goods! 

Young filmmaker, photographer, and kayaker Caleb Chicoine of Downriver Films submitted this photo of Grotto Drops on Independence Pass near Aspen, CO. 
“I started kayaking two summers ago and instantly fell in love.  Then this past summer I purchased my first DSLR camera which I also instantly fell in love with.  After a few months of using my camera and progressing in kayaking, I thought ‘why not merge my two passions?’ That was the birth of Downriver Films.”
“From then on, every time I went kayaking I brought my camera.  It has gotten to the point that I will not leave the house without it!  Where I really fell in love with these two passions was on a trip to the North Fork of the Crystal River.  This place was indescribable.  The water was so unbelievably clear.  We actually could see the glacier that the water was coming from and used the river as our water source for three days.  This made me realize how much I love these pristine creeks.”
“That is how we ended up at this picture.  It was the beginning of fall and in CO we don’t have much year round boating.  We were antsy to find something new to paddle.  We ended up just going on Google earth and looking for new creeks that people haven’t paddled yet.  We found this steep creek paralleling Independence Pass near Aspen CO and headed over there.  When we got there the water reminded me of that on the Crystal River.  I was actually so astounded by this place that the moment I saw it I took off running and everyone thought I was a crazy person!  Unfortunately the water was very low so we only ran one drop but I was able to capture this image.  I love this image because it shows one of the few places in the world that is still perfect.”
“So many places nowadays are tampered with and destroyed.  Because of us, our water is being destroyed.  Us kayakers are fortunate that we are able to access some of these “perfect” places because most people can’t.  Most people are stuck with polluted, disgusting rivers.  I feel that the more pictures of clean, perfect rivers are out there, the more people will realize what they are missing out on.  Everyone needs to make an effort to clean up the rivers because if we don’t, one by one these “perfect” places we have come to love will vanish.”

Kevin “Taz” Riggs entered these patches in the folk ark category, pictured here in painted leather and hypalon. “I picked up on this ‘art form’ about three years ago, when I decided to do a reproduction of my Dad’s flight jacket. I had his original Bomb Group and Squadron patches, But dared not use a real piece of history. So, I found a source on line and purchased them there. I was a little disappointed with what I got and they were thick and stiff. “I can do better than that,” I thought. By pure chance there just happened to be a mail order business located in my tiny rural town that supplied high quality leather paints. A little bit of practice and I did “better than that,” and completed the jacket.”
“This is truly a lost art, I have only found two people in the US that are listed on line. One makes a real living at it, fetches amazing prices and still has a hard time keeping up with demand. The other is a dabbler like myself. It’s understandable as it takes a lot of patience and six or seven thin coats to insure flexibility, durability, depth and clarity of color. For me its been mostly a hobby, though I’ve sold a few remakes, I mostly do fantasy work for friends and family as gifts.”
“What we see here I could call my whitewater series. Three are done on leather and three are on raft material (a somewhat experimental medium) Our fly-boys could get painted canvas or even embroidery, But they prefered leather. Today you can get computer generated, mass produced embroidery economically. But, it ain’t leather and it sure isn’t raft material nor hand made with pride.”

Artist Darek Czarnecki for the mARTch contest submitted these two Hei Matau, one in the OTHER category and one in the WOOD category. “A Hei Matau is a traditional, hand-carved fishing hook from the Maori culture of New Zealand. They are said to represent strength and good luck, and are worn for safe travel across water. They should be given to one’s loved ones as a sign of respect and honor.”
“The one on the right is carved from wood from a red oak tree in West Virginia. It was a gift for my girlfriend after running her first waterfall (Valley Falls on the Tygart). The left is carved from a deer antler found by my parents while they were trail riding horses. I carved it while recovering from shoulder surgery (paddling-related injury) as a way to keep myself busy and somewhat sane. I gave it to a dear friend of mine, another boater, who had broken her arm and wrist in a car accident.”

Woodworker and paddler Mika Kobs submitted some of her newest whitewater river maps. “I started woodburning as a hobby shortly after I began paddling,” Mika tells us, “so I guess it makes sense that the two became intertwined. What started as a plywood doodle of the Gauley River has now turned into my small but growing Etsy business.”
Mika specializes in highly detailed river maps that show the various rapids, a dirtbag favorite. “Originally from Cincinnati, I moved to West Virginia after I became addicted to paddling.  A year of living in West Virginia let me experience lots of wonderful whitewater and meet some amazing paddlers. I’m currently wintering in New Jersey, but I plan on moving back to West Virginia or another good whitewater state in the spring.”
“Here are some examples of the river maps I’ve created– the New, Lower Yough, New River Gorge Bridge, Kennebec, Gauley, and Grand Canyon. I’m constantly trying to add new rivers to my collection, so hopefully I’ll be posting a few new ones soon!” Her New River Gorge Bridge piece is featured as the cover of this month’s DBP MAGAZINE ONLINE. 

Here’s another series of entries in the mARTch contest in the woodworking category from Brooks McKee. “I collect driftwood by hand from the beaches here in Oregon and then transform the pieces into jewelry, utensils, sculptures and vessels. Driftwood is extremely strong and represents the last leg of life for a piece of wood. I love to capture the wood at this stage and then work to highlight its natural beauty and form through woodworking. I get inspired by the shape of the wood to influence me on what I am going to make out of it. Harvesting the raw driftwood by hand and then taking it all the way through to a finished product is both challenging and rewarding, but I think that is what makes Oregon Driftware unique.”
“Whitewater is my passion and Oregon has plenty to offer! I have been boating (seriously) for 12 years and just recently started the hardshell… as I have been holding out as an IK’er my whole paddling career until now. Also love to canoe and fish, so any time on the water is a good time for me.”

Artist Nathan Cline entered two pieces, “Eli at 7 Foot Falls,” a charcoal drawing, and “The Overstreet family canoe portrait”, into the contest in the DRAWING category. “I have always surrounded myself with art,” Nate tells us, “whether it’s drawing and painting or music. Just like whitewater boating, it keeps me sane.”
“I was fortunate enough to be born into the whitewater family. My dad was one of the first in the area to paddle. I have so many childhood memories with paddling, from sitting in the bow of a canoe on the Lower Green, to pinning the raft at Big Pillow on French Broad sect 9, to even getting stuck in a hole and jumping out of my canoe….only for the canoe to remain upright and surf the hole for 30 minutes….lol!”
If anyone is interested in a commissioned piece, send Nate an email with your idea or photo. “Let me know what size and media you prefer. Sorry, I cannot do acrylics/oils due to cost and the time frame involved….plus its expensive for you guys. You can chose from charcoal, pen and ink, water color, color pencil or a mix media (a combo of all above). If you have any questions, I can help you along.”  His contact info is [email protected] and he’s done work for some of our friends… Amazing Nate! 

Painter Michael Guastella submitted “Flatwater” in the PAINTING category. “I finished this last week. I came up with the idea while canoeing Parksville Lake near the Ocoee river. Enjoy!”
We asked him to tell us a bit about himself and his work. “I run a fine line between being a dirtbag outdoorsman and an artist. Art and music were an early part of my education growing up in New Orleans, and I also had access to endless flat-water paddling. I started guiding canoe tours during college and became a raft guide shortly after. At the end of rafting season last year I wanted to calm down a bit and decided to go for a lake tour. I loaded up my canoe and started paddling. In the small inlets the turquoise blue water faded gently into the burnt, copper tones of the shore line; I began to day dream about this piece. Over the years my artwork and music have digressed to minimalism and abstraction. The progressive simplicity and repetition of flat-water paddling was what I wanted to capture in this piece.” Michael writes, ” I maintain a personal blog for my writing, adventures and photos, check me out!”

Photographer Jonah Grubb of Steep Water Studios entered three shots in the PHOTOGRAPHY category. “Here’s my favorite shot from my trip to New Zealand this past winter. This shot is of paddler Rob Collister as he gets squirted out of Trout Pool Falls on the Kaituna River.”
“The second is also Rob trying out a cross bow on Trout Pool, a pretty daring move above such a sticky hole. I saw a lot of progression happen on this drop even for the short time I was there.”
“The third is my good buddy Thomas Mooney-Meyers, whom I taught to kayak, running his biggest waterfall to date, Maruia Falls in NZ. About 30′. Cool to see one of my best friends fall in love with a sport that means so much to me and progress quickly enough to join me for my paddling adventure in NZ.”
“Steep Water Studios is my production company, which I’m stoked to say, has actually started making me money. Although not so much on the paddling side of things…. yet! Enjoy!”

Aaron Smith fired up an entry for his father Charlie in the WOOD category. “This piece was made and given to me as a gift by my father Charlie Smith. Nestled in the mountains of western North Carolina, he resides just outside of Burnsville NC. He has been turning wood and creating his artwork for over twenty years. In each piece he seeks to capture the natural beauty of the wood. He creates bowls, platters, pendant jewelry as well as artistic free form pieces.”
“Charlie introduced me to paddling at a very young age with canoe outings on the muddy rivers of East Texas and much anticipated spring and summer trips for some class II action in northern Arkansas. He taught me a great appreciation and respect for nature and all its beauty that I carry with me today.”
“When he isn’t turning on his lathe, Charlie enjoys hiking and exploring the local trails. Though his paddles have been dry for many years, he still runs shuttle when called upon.  
In this particular piece, a shallow Bois d’ Arc bowl, Charlie captured my paddling and hiking passions through the primitive fashioned burnings.” We thanked Aaron for sharing Charlie’s work, and he replied, “thanks, love seeing all creativity and talent everyone has!” Us too!

Dom Whittaker submitted this piece entitled “YEAH DUDE” in the DRAWING category.
“I’m a kayaker from the UK,” Dom tells us. “I’m 18 and have been paddling for 8 years. Chasing the dream to be a Pro Kayaker.” Cheers to that!
“The photo is from last year at Lee Valley White Water Centre where they held the 2012 Olympics for canoeing. Was a sick day had loads of fun. So decided to draw it up. Don’t get to do art that much now. Just trying to fit it around work and kayaking.”

Photographer and paddler Ross Miller entered a few different images. “Here’s a few different styles of shots. The first mimics the style of Andy Warhol. I call this one “Narcissim”. The second photo is of a sunset on the Potomac river in Maryland. The third pic is of a small house on the Truckee river in CA. This is one of my favorites. I caught the light just perfect, and it softened everything up just enough to make this a beautiful pic. The fourth one is a sunset that I smeared editing all over.”

Our friends at Sahabat air! submitted this photo (credit Anggara Jaya Wardhana). “This picture comes from our river in Indonesia, the Brantas River at Batu City, East Java. We just want to share our feelings about rafting: its not only about the thrill, adrenalin etc, but we want to share the feeling that we feel when we are boating, in the rapids there is so much fun and joy! So everybody out there who want to feel the same way that we feel about rafting can try rafting no matter if they are young or old.”
“Let the water gather us.” Indeed!! True spirit of the contest right there!! Check out their awesome Instagram feed @sahabat_air

Graphic artist and paddler Beth MacKinney entered this collage of images from Maine titled “Maine Waters” in the PHOTOGRAPHY category.
“There’s no other place I’d rather be than on the water. To make images of all the special places I like to paddle helps keep that feeling alive when I get off the water. I’ve discovered so much more of my home state of Maine once I became a paddler. She is one awesome and mighty place to call home.” 
When she’s not guiding or goofing off with her family on the rivers of Maine, Beth is a self-employed graphic designer (with five cats and an awesome lab!) Here’s her ‘woefully no updated website’: http://www.berrygraphics.com

This submission in the PHOTOGRAPHY category is a three piece image entitled: “The Soul of a Wave” by photographer/cinematographer Jake Ring, who also has pushed rubber for a living, giving him unique perspective on his art.
“The inspiration for this ‘peace’ came from the heart of my whitewater experience. The most peaceful spot in the world can be found in the middle of a huge wallace. When your soul and the wave’s become one. Only here does everything cease to exist.” AGREED!!

This next entry is a lighthearted photo from photographer Marlen Ziyadinov of his children at play, entitled “Our Future.” Marlen paddles and shoots photos in Russia, and was inspired to do a whimsical photo about the inheritors of our stewardship.
The kids are dressed in the outfits of the future, and also shed light on our own childlike love of paddling, and connection with tomorrow through today’s actions. Marlen leaves us with this, “go forward bro, our futures))) WALLACE!” Yep!

Courtney Genise had her piece “The Water Is Calling and I Must Go,” submitted by her friend Susannah Closs. She’s an artist of few words. When I asked if she was entering it, she said, “Sure. as long as I don’t have to swim in frigid waters. lol” Hahah! 

Our next artist in the mARTch contest is Betsy Towns, specializing in resurrection art, or the art of adding to thrift store paintings. She submits two pieces hanging in the Liquidlogic offices, “Countess of Boofington” and “Stout Timelapse” in OTHER category. 
“At the same time that Shane Benedict and I were working together to curate an art competition for the Liquidlogic’s collection, we were loving following people who add monsters or Star Wars characters to thrift store paintings, so it was a natural leap for us to dream up the idea of adding kayaks to thrift store paintings. We went shopping and I ran with it. I’m a sculptor and art historian for work, but I love to paint and paddle, too.  This project stretches my skills because I have to try to blend into a 19th century portrait, an impressionist landscape or a black velvet painting. I have fun and get an excuse to go to thrift stores and look at a million kayaking pictures.” Sweet work! Thanks for sharing!!

Photographer Josh Nowicki, who has been busy this winter capturing some of the beauty in southwest Michigan and other locations as well., entered these photos. Josh tells us, “The winter sunrise at Split Rock Lighthouse in MN was magical.  Wisps of fogs slowly swirling over the still water gave an ethereal feel to the already impressive landscape.  I stood on the ice covered lake shore in awe of the grandeur and beauty the Lake Superior.” 
Mutual friend Shaggy Shell tells us about the shots as well. “Local paddler Karol Garrison shows her skills and how we roll on the sunset coast of Lake Michigan. Check out his Facebook page, Josh Nowicki photography, he has compiled many stunning and spectacular shots that are so painfully beautiful that I am reminded of how lucky I am to have grown older surrounded by such beauty.”
THANKS TO ALL WHO ENTERED AND SHARED THEIR WORK WITH US! We hope these works of art will help us connect with our non-paddling friends and family and help to demonstrate to them why we love doing our thing, and also help raise awareness of International Rivers and the work they do every day to preserve our rivers free and clean! Now get outside and do some good today!!

Every River Has a Story: from the Day of Action 2013. Still relevant today! 

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