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What We're Up To

Want to know a little more about us, where we’ve been, what we’re doing and where we’re going? The snippets below provide a snapshot of our journey, and the events, partnerships and news happening at Barefoot Eco Outfitters!

CELEBRATION OF THE LIVES OF TOKITAE (Sk' aliCh' elh-tenaut)

and Kenneth Balcomb

Lime Kiln State Park, San Juan Island/November 12, 2023

This is one event that won't ever leave us, that is embedded in our hearts forever. On Sunday, November 12, we took the ferry up to San Juan Island for the Celebration of life for Tokitae the killer whale and famed whale researcher, Kenneth Balcomb.

Tokitae was captured from her home waters of the Salish Sea in 1970, and removed from her family to spend the next 54 years at the Miami Seaquarium. Over the years there were committed and passionate efforts to bring Toki home to her orca and Lummi Nation families. Finally, permission was granted, but it was too late - Toki passed before she could return home.

Ken Balcomb was a fierce advocate for the orcas and they knew him well. He founded and directed the Center for Whale Research and devoted his life to the study and protection of the whales. Ken sadly passed away at the age of 82 in December, 2022 leaving a massive hole in the hearts of the whale research community.

But that day marked a celebration of life. The ceremony hosted by Howard Garrett, President of Orca Network, and Coast Salish elders, Rosie Cayou James and Bill Bailey, was beautiful and healing, assuring those who gathered that Toki's spirit is swimming free, and that Ken continues to guide the efforts of those who carry on his work.

All the speakers touched our hearts, and Skyler Strandness of Barefoot Eco Outfitters was humbled and honored to be asked, along with three others, to set a salmon offering afloat in Toki's home waters.

There is so much more to tell and so much more to come, but know that our efforts to help protect the Southern Resident killer whales of the Salish Sea, have only just begun. Visit our website to learn more and to stay up to date on our efforts.

SOUTHERN RESIDENT KILLER WHALE DOCUMENTARY FILM PROJECT

Proof of concept shoot, October 2023

We are beyond thrilled to announce that a longstanding dream is becoming a reality! If you've followed us for any amount of time, you will know that we are passionate about the plight of the endangered Southern Resident killer whales of the Salish Sea. As lifelong residents of Washington state, our connection to these creatures runs deep, and deeper still for the Coast Salish people for whom these whales are qwe 'lhol mechen (relations below the waves). With only 75 Southern Residents left to roam these waters, we felt compelled to tell their story, not only highlighting the many challenges to their survival (chief among them being scarcity of Chinook salmon, their primary food source), but also to talk about the spiritual connections that exist with these sacred animals and why they mean so much to so many. 

 

This collaboration began with an email we sent to a wildlife conservation photographer named Derek Nielsen, whom we had come to know on Instagram. We respected Derek's character, his work ethic, and his passion for educating and illuminating the challenges faced by endangered wildlife through his amazing photography. Derek was immediately on board, and had recently come to know Joseph Pelegreen, a talented writer/director/filmmaker who he thought would be a perfect addition to the team. Joseph was also capitivated by the story we wanted to tell, and dove into researching the subject with great enthusiasm. Joseph was gripped by the plight of the SR's and reached out to his friend and respected colleague, award winning cinematographer and filmmaker Kalilah Robinson, who by some miracle was available just when we needed her. The dream team was born.

 

After nearly a year of planning and setting up interviews, and the logistics of three weeks of travel to locations vital to telling this story, the proof of concept filming began in October and will conclude in early November. This important footage will serve as an inspiring summary of the story this film aims to tell, and is a powerful compilation of voices who have devoted their lives to the preservation of the Southern Resident orcas. We are hopeful that the support gained from this proof of concept will allow filming to begin in earnest in the spring of 2024. 

 

Join us on this journey, won't you? You can track our progress on our website, and by following @SRKWfilm on Instagram. You can find out more about the team here:

Derek Nielesen, Derek Nielsen Photography: https://www.dereknielsen.com

Joseph Pelegreen: https://voyagedallas.com/interview/meet-joseph-pelegreen-rockwall/

Kalilah Robinson: https://www.kalilahrobinson.com/BIO.html
 

ORCA RECOVERY DAY, OCTOBER 14, 2023 

WHALE SCOUT SALMON HABITAT RESTORATION BOTHELL, WA

We were excited to spend the afternoon with the Whale Scout team and an enthusiastic group of community members committed to protecting salmon habitat by replanting the riparian zone on the Sammamish River. Chinook salmon are the primary diet of our endangered Southern Resident orcas, so protecting and repairing their habitat is critical to their survival, and the survival of the SR's.

Special guests included Dr. Deborah Giles and Eba the Whale Dog - both celebrities in the Southern Resident orca conservation world. If you'd like to learn how you can volunteer and why it matters, visit whalescout.org.To learn more about Giles and her lifelong commitment to orca preservation, head to wildorca.org. And for sure Google Eba the Whale Dog to see videos of this amazing pup in action!

First photo credit: @whalescouts

SALMON CEREMONY FOR TOKITAE

OCTOBER 8, 2023/ANACORTES, WA

The Salish Sea. Home to Tokitae, the last remaining captive killer whale who was taken from her family in 1970 and forced to perform for over 50 years at the Miami Sea Aquarium. Due to committed efforts by the Lummi Nation to free their relation, Sk'aliCh'elh-tenaut (Tokitae), she was finally set to return home to her 97- year old mother, Ocean Sun and her extended L-Pod family in the Salish Sea. Tragically, Tokitae passed away shortly before she could be reunited with her family. Across all those miles, Toki's family knew, and gathered together in her home waters to mourn her passing. Toki's ashes were returned to her Lummi family and scattered in a private ceremony in a sacred location. Toki is home.

In an act to promote healing, Salmon Ceremonies were held at several locations on the Salish Sea to honor Tokitae. We attended the powerful ceremony for Toki on Sunday, October 8th in Anacortes, Washington, with the sun shining bright on her home waters. Coast Salish elders Rosie Cayou and Bill Bailey led the ceremony with drumbeats and insightful words - wisdom gifted only to those who see with more than their eyes, and hear with more than their ears. We were profoundly moved and so grateful for this opportunity for healing.

 

We are proud to say that we are collaborating with an amazing film crew on a documentary to tell the story of the endangered Southern Resident orcas, their cultural impact on the Coast Salish people, and of the tireless work of local conservationists dedicated to protecting these orcas and their primary food source, Chinook salmon. More to come!

Thank you, Rosie, Bill, Cindy, Howard, and the other revered organizers for this special, healing time together, and for sharing your words of education and wisdom.

We respectfully acknowledge the lands we visited are the homelands of indigenous tribes of the Pacific Northwest, some of whom have reserved rights on these lands. Tribes continue to rely on and share in the management of these lands today. Please tread gently and treat these places with respect.

TRACY STRANDNESS PODCAST INTERVIEW/DEREK NIELSEN’S ART OF ACTUAL CHANGE

Derek Nielsen is a renowned wildlife photographer who is passionate about conservation, sustainability, ecofriendly fashion and saving the planet. Barefoot Eco Outfitters Owner/Founder Tracy Strandness was honored to sit down with Derek to talk about the sustainable fashion industry, the pros and cons the industry has to offer and why the pros far outweigh the cons. She shares the intimate details about her very personal encounter with domestic abuse and how through that painful experience she and her children found strength and inspiration in the heart of nature. Derek and Tracy open up to each other about their own journey as survivors and how therapy, reflection and determination has lead them both to unforeseen positions of strength. If you are triggered by conversations about domestic abuse or sexual assault please hold off on listening to this episode until you’re are ready. You can watch it here:

ONE HEART WILD EDUCATION SANCTUARY’S GOATS & FLOATS FUNDRAISER, AUGUST 2021

We had a great day at One Heart Wild Education Sanctuary’s Goats & Floats event benefitting all the rescued animals that call this special place home! Not only was the setting beautiful and serene, but the staff were all warm and welcoming, and the new customers we met were so wonderful! We were very happy to support this cause! Whether animals be domestic or wild, we fully support their respectful care and every effort to protect them. You can find out more about their work at: oneheartwild.org

WE’RE OFFERING A FREE HEMP CORD BRACELET WITH EVERY PURCHASE WHILE SUPPLIES LAST!

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – our customers are the best! If you’ve ordered from us before, you know that we like to include a little something special with every order. It’s our way of saying thank you for choosing to shop with us and for supporting small businesses! Starting May 3rd, we’ll include a free hemp cord bracelet with either an ocean-themed or woodland-themed charm (depending on your order). Hemp is an environmental superstar! It naturally helps to regenerate the soil by transforming contaminated materials; some say it can help reduce global warming because it takes out larger amounts of carbon dioxide per acre than most plants. Hemp is a hardy plant that has a high yield and also helps prevent erosion. The 100% hemp cord in these bracelets is colored with acid-free and lead-free dyes, and is eco-friendly and biodegradable. The lead-free charms feature bear, moose, a backpack, whale tail, sea turtle and surfer girl.

BAREFOOT ECO OUTFITTERS NOW CARRIES CITY BONFIRES – MINI, PORTABLE BONFIRES AND BAMBOO ROASTING STICKS!

In a first for us, we’re now carrying an item not created by us, but we felt the connection of this made-in-the-USA product to our celebration of the outdoors was too perfect to ignore! City Bonfires is the brainchild of two Maryland dads whose jobs were financially impacted by the pandemic, and who came up with this charming, eco-friendly way to help people create fun memories, especially during the pandemic. City Bonfires are 4″ X 2″ tins containing FDA food grade non-toxic soy wax with a total burn time of 3-4 hours, and are reusable. Paired with their re-usable bamboo roasting sticks, this setup is the perfect way to roast marshmallows and make not only S’mores, but memories to last a lifetime, in the comfort of your own backyard, or wherever you’re inspired to take this portable little campfire! It’s the perfect accompaniment to our camping mugs, and our cozy, comfort earth-friendly apparel!

SQUALICUM BEACH CLEANUP,  BELLINGHAM, WASHINGTON, JANUARY 2020

We were excited to organize our first group cleanup at Squalicum Beach in Bellingham, WA and it was a great success! As usual, cigarette butts were a big part of the trash collected, which is problematic as they do not biodegrade and leach many toxic chemicals. Other common trash offenders are styrofoam, plastic wrappers, lids and bottles, and this awesome group of volunteers climbed, dug and braved thorny bushes to get to the garbage that would have likely ended up in the Salish Sea. A day well spent!

2019 VICTORIAN COUNTRY CHRISTMAS

We spent five Christmassy days at the 32nd Annual Victorian Country Christmas festival on December 4-8th. Vendors dress in Victorian era clothing, and storefronts are decked out with lighted garland and Christmas decor. Shoppers enjoy shopping, food, wine bar and a full schedule of entertainment!

2019 TACOMA HOLIDAY FOOD AND GIFT FESTIVAL

The Tacoma Holiday Food and Gift Festival is a super fun event, chock full of holiday magic and over 500 amazing vendors! We were glad to be back at the 2019 festival in October, and had a great time connecting with customers old and new! Our earth-friendly apparel is the perfect gift for the nature lover, and we have some new cozy new items for the 2019 holiday season!

WASHINGTON YOUTH CLIMATE STRIKE, SEPTEMBER 20, 2019, KIRKLAND, WA

We stand behind our youth in supporting the climate strike movement started by Swedish teen Greta Thunberg, and were proud to participate in the multi-generational global climate strike on September 20th in Kirkland, WA. We will continue to support this effort and the push for a Green New Deal as we fight for the survival of our planet.

WATERLAND FESTIVAL PARADE WITH SR3

We love to be in support of our donation partners, and so were happy to walk with SR3 Sealife Response + Rehab + Research in the Waterland Festival Parade on July 20, 2019. It’s an honor to help spread awareness about their important work on behalf of marine wildlife in the Pacific Northwest!

You can find out more at www.sealifer3.org.

“DRINK LIKE A FISH” BENEFIT CRUISE ON THE HIYU, SEATTLE

We had a great time at our booth on May 26th aboard the refurbished ferry the Hiyu, for the “Drink Like a Fish” cruise benefiting NW Film Forum, sponsors of SIFF film, ‘The Wild’ by Director Mark Titus. What a fun venue! This film focuses on the urgency to save the last intact salmon habitat in Bristol Bay, Alaska, and begs the question, “How do you save what you love?” Many thanks to all our new customers for their warmth, good humor and kindness at this fun event!

KOMO SO NORTHWEST WOMEN’S SHOW 2018

Barefoot Eco Outfitters had a great time sharing our earth-friendly products and mission at the KOMO So Northwest Women’s Show March 9 & 10th 2019! We are born and raised Pacific Northwest natives and we love celebrating the best of Upper Left, USA!

VOLUNTEERING ON BEHALF OF SR3 FOR CURIOSITY DAYS, PACIFIC SCIENCE CENTER, SEATTLE

We love to support our donation partners, and so were happy to volunteer with SR3 (www.sealifer3.org) at their educational booth at Curiosity Days on November 10, 2018 at the Pacific Science Center. It was a pleasure to share information on our regional marine wildlife, and the important work that SR3 is doing in terms of rescue, rehabilitation and research. They are looking to build the region’s first dedicated marine animal hospital, as currently the closest one available to injured sea mammals in the State of Washington is in California – a perilous journey to make for an already fragile animal. This is exciting work, and you can donate to their tireless efforts at the link above!

PUGET SOUNDKEEPER ALLIANCE SEATTLE SUMMER CLEANUP

As part of our support of the efforts of the Puget Soundkeeper Alliance marine debris program in 2018, we were happy to participate in their first Seattle Summer Cleanup event on June 16, 2018. In just two hours, volunteers in kayaks, canoes and on foot cleaning the shoreline collected 656 pounds of trash! That’s both very rewarding and discouraging that so much trash was able to be collected in such a short period of time. Trash cleanups are great, but they are a bandaid – the real solution comes in being mindful of our use and disposal of plastics, and general thoughtfulness about trash disposal when outdoors, on boats, etc. We crossed paths with bald eagles, great blue herons, turtles, ducks, red-winged blackbirds and more, and we pulled all that trash from their homes. We can do better! You can help too! If you’re in the Seattle area, check out the Puget Soundkeeper Alliance website (www.pugetsoundkeeper.org) and look for their volunteer opportunities! All watercraft are provided, and you get a free t-shirt and lunch afterward! They are happy to have you help, or to join as a member for just $20/year! 

NEW TO OUR MIGHTY MOUNTAIN COLLECTION

COMING SOON to our Mighty Mountain Collection: we have new earth-friendly items in production that we can’t wait to add to the website! Look for a new mountain-inspired unisex organic cotton/RPET hoodie, a new color for our Mountain Lovers caps, brand new Mountain Lovers Headbands, and lightweight bamboo muscle tees with a mountain-inspired motif to jumpstart your adventurous spirit! Always eco-friendly, always supremely comfortable, and every purchase supports www.wawild.org and the preservation of the wild places of Washington state. Stay tuned!

WASHINGTON YOUTH CLIMATE STRIKE, SEPTEMBER 20, 2019, KIRKLAND, WA

We like joining with our recreational communities to celebrate exciting festivities such as the May 19, 2018 grand opening celebration for the Raging River mountain bike trail system with the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance and the Washington State Department of Natural Resources. One thing we’ve learned through the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance about the mountain biking community is that they are a family. The sense of community, support and camaraderie around this sport is palpable, and has enabled EMBA to become a leader in both establishing trails and working with local government on issues of conservation and sustainability. The recent grand opening of the Raging River trail system is another example of that. You can find out more about them here: https://www.evergreenmtb.org/

MIGHTY OCEAN COLLECTION PHOTO SHOOT ABOARD THE HISTORIC SCHOONER LAVENGRO

We’re all about connecting with and celebrating local businesses! We were fortunate to be able to do the photo shoot for our new earth-friendly Mighty Ocean apparel aboard the historic Schooner Lavengro on a beautiful spring day on Lake Union in Seattle, as the sunshine and clear blue sky brought her nautical details to life! This 1926 wooden gaff rigged schooner is full of regal charm and is owned and operated by the Northwest Schooner Society. Excursions are available through Lake Union Charters & Adventures: http://lakeunioncharters.com/

2017 TACOMA HOLIDAY FOOD AND GIFT FESTIVAL, TACOMA DOME

Barefoot Eco Outfitters had a great time celebrating the holidays at the 2017 Tacoma Holiday Food and Gift Festival at the Tacoma Dome. This annual event is jam-packed with great gift ideas, cooking demos and live performances, and draws a huge and festive crowd! We were happy to share our earth-friendly apparel in celebration of the great outdoors, and to talk about our giving back mission!

KIRKLAND WEDNESDAY MARKET 2017

From June 5th through September 27th 2017, Barefoot Eco Outfitters is enjoying the lakefront views and lively vibe of the Kirkland Wednesday Market. You can find us there every, well, Wednesday from 2 pm – 7 pm! Save on shipping and get first dibs on new product when you stop by our booth, plus you get to touch and feel our super soft and comfy earth friendly apparel for yourself! Find out more about the Kirkland Wednesday Market here: http://kirklandmarket.org/

EVERGREEN MOUNTAIN BIKE FESTIVAL, DUTHIE HILL PARK

We spent a great weekend sharing our earth friendly apparel at the Evergreen Mountain Bike Festival at Duthie Hill Park on June 11 &12, 2017! Hosted by the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance whose mission is to create, maintain, and protect sustainable mountain biking opportunities in Washington state, this action packed weekend featured bike demos, skills clinics, trail riding and 50+ vendors. You can find out more about this awesome organization here: https://www.evergreenmtb.org/

2017 NORTHWEST PADDLING FESTIVAL