Monthly Archives: November 2012

Mountain2Mountain Founder Shannon Galpin Featured in ‘American Dreamers’

The recently released American Dreamers book features an essay by our very own Shannon Galpin. What is American Dreamers? An initiative of Sharp Stuff, American Dreamers “is for those who believe in brighter futures. Gathering the optimists, mavericks, and mad inventors who believe we can create a better world, American Dreamers is a guidebook for optimism and an art book for inspiration.”

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Shannon Galpin named National Geographic Adventurer of the Year

For the last eight years, National Geographic has combed the globe to find Adventurers of the Year, each selected for his or her extraordinary achievement in exploration, conservation, humanitarianism or adventure sports.  This year, our founder, Shannon Galpin, was named one of 2013’s Adventurers of the Year.


Adventure: While most know you as an activist, two-wheeled vehicles never seem far away from the conversation. You’re known to ride a motorcycle around Kabul. You bring your mountain bike on many of your trips. Does your passion for biking overlap with activism?

Shannon Galpin: I launched Mountain2Mountain the same time I became a mountain biker. I think there is something very different about embracing a sport that you know wholeheartedly is going to make you bloody. You know you are going to crash when you mountain bike. There is no way to get better if you don’t crash. I think there is a synergy in it. When women first started using the bike in the 1800s, it was literally a vehicle for their empowerment. They broke barriers on women’s suffrage and embracing their own freedom of transportation.

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Black Friday for Change

Each year I’m flummoxed by the kickoff to our holiday season.  Let’s bring family and friends together to give thanks for what we have on Thursday, and then trample our fellow man at 5am at a local Walmart to purchase cheap electronics on Friday?  How does that celebrate the holiday season?

“good will towards men”

“peace on earth”

Are these just words we write on our holiday cards out of tradition and the brainwashing of decades of Christmas carols?  We spend an insane amount of time and money on decorations and presents and general fa-la-la-la’ing – but  these days its only surface deep.

We should be living the holiday spirit every day – wishing our global neighbors and our literal neighbors ‘peace on earth’.  We should be treating those around us with smiles, and good cheer, and homemade sugar cookies ALL YEAR ROUND.  Not just when we bust out the artificial holiday wreath and tack it to our front door.

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The Long Way Around

How much awesomeness can you cram into one day in a country known worldwide as a war zone?  A lot.

Its starts with a 6am bike ride through Kabul with photographer and fellow biker, Mikhail Galustov.

We spin our wheels through quiet Kabul streets towards the historic Darulamon Palace.  Tony, Anna, and Warren joining us with the mini bus for a little early morning Kabul adventure.  Warren snapping Tony snapping us.

Riding past Kabul’s Inside Out project that was put up the day before by a group of Afghan artists in three different locations around the city as part of a worldwide street art project created by JR.

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Shamsia – an Afghan Graffiti Artist

Ask westerners living in Afghanistan what they think about the country’s future  and you get a variety of answers, most cynical.  But the best response I heard was two weeks ago over a coffee at Kabul’s Flower Street Cafe,  “The people are sweet and the country’s a mess”.

Shamsia epitomizes the ‘people are sweet and the country’s a mess’ like few others.  An artist and faculty professor of fine arts at Kabul University, she has a soft disposition and gentle face with large brown eyes and an easy smile that makes her seem even younger than her 23 years.  After knowing Shamsia virtually for two years, I finally got to sit down with her at the artist refuge, The Venue in Kabul where one of her murals is a work in progress on an interior wall, to discuss her vision of art in Afghanistan and beyond.

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Hipstamatic Biking in Kabul

6:00am in Kabul.  A light rain was falling, but Georgian photographer, Mikhail Galustov and I agreed, rain or no rain, let’s go for a bike ride.  Our destination?  Kabul’s historic Darulamon Palace.

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Streets of Afghanistan Exhibitions a Success

“Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world.”  – Joel A. Barker

Against the odds, Mountain2Mountain completed 5 public exhibitions and 2 photo stagings at historic sites over the past two weeks in Afghanistan.

The first was a staging at Kabul’s historic Darulamon Palace.

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Streets of Afghanistan By the Numbers

What does it take top produce a handful of full-scale public photo exhibitions in Afghanistan? We broke it down by numbers.

Bags checked all the way to Kabul: 32

Number of bags that made it safely to Kabul: 32

Hours spent waiting in Dubai airport: 22

Hours spent sleeping on Dubai airport floor: 3.5

Porters that it took to transport bags from airport to bus: 5

Photo exhibits produced: 4

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A Garden of Photography for Women in Kabul

Women were a rarity at the three public exhibitions in Afghanistan.  While many families attended Babur Gardens, only a few saw the exhibition in Istalif and the Kabul Zoo.  Therefore, it was a pleasure to bring the exhibition to the Women’s Garden in the heart of Kabul.

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