Ben is the founder and ideas man behind Paddling with Purpose. Paddling with Purpose has been a project, a cause and a campaign but these have now grown into their own entities, and Paddling with Purpose is back to being Ben’s blog.
Ben is currently advocating for conservation of the Marañon River as International Coordinator for Marañón Waterkeeper, and makes a living by guiding river (including through his company on the Marañón – Marañón Experience).
About Benjamin Webb:
I am a passionate whitewater kayaker; I enjoy snowboarding, rock climbing, hiking, backcountry skiing, canyoning, scuba diving, mountain biking and cycle touring and all the fun outdoors things. I am not exceptional in any way; not in fitness, strength or technique. The only reason I make it to some pretty cool places is that I tend to bite off more than I can chew and once I have started something have a lot of trouble giving up.
I have always tended to enjoy long, unplanned and somewhat ridiculous adventures. From hitchhiking halfway around Australia, to driving across Canada in the middle of winter (without snow tyres…), to painting vans for carefree road tripping. Somewhere along the way I picked up some skill in various outdoor sports and a love for challenging, extended wilderness journeys. In 2012 I was awarded an Adventure Grant from the Melbourne University Mountaineering Club to complete a particularly arduous journey down the Denison River in South West Tasmania. Having to portage a boat laden with 7 days worth of food and gear over the King William Range in order to find the river is an unforgettable experience. It is trips like this where you realise what you are truly capable of and what you value most in life.
I guess I’m just a guy that likes the world (hey, it’s a pretty cool place!) and who really (REALLY) likes kayaking. Click here to see what kind of kayaking I mean.
I somehow found myself in a position where I could do something positive to help this cause, feeling inspired enough to pack up and head for South America. The fact that this journey will involve a significant amount of paddling is tribute to my belief that EVERYONE should find what they are passionate about, and go do it. If you can do what you love in a way that makes the world a slightly better place, all the better. I just can’t help the fact that there is nothing I would rather do with my time than float down beautiful rivers, surrounded by incredible people. Life would be much easier if I was a stamp collector.
I am passionate about the natural environment, protecting what we have and sustainable development. With a degree in Environmental Engineering, I am somewhat aware of how little I know about the world and its intricate workings. This education has cultivated a heightened concern the environmental issues we face, and even more concern that there is no technological solution to a problem rooted in a constant expectation of more. For this reason, in a lot of ways I have set out on a journey to find less.
“This vanishing world is beautiful beyond our dreams and contains in itself rewards and gratifications never found in artificial landscape, or man-made objects” – Olegas Truchanas
Inspiration:The following was found written in a logbook after completing an epic Tasmanian paddling journey:
“Twenty Six years ago the magistrate ordered me not to lurk, loiter, hide or secrete myself in the South West of Tasmania. I’m still defying those blockade bail conditions.”
It hit home. Without the 1217+ people who stood in the way at the Franklin river blockade, the bulldozer scars reaching up the river banks would not abruptly end; the incredible place from which I had just emerged would simply not exist, the experience gained would have never been. I realised that it’s not superheroes, governments or big businesses that care for these places; there is only us. A line must be drawn somewhere, to say that these things are simply to precious to lose. It is up to the people who care enough to draw that line and to show the rest of the world where it is. If I do not take this opportunity to do what I can; how can I expect anyone else to? If the people who care about these things cannot demonstrate to the rest of the world why they must be protected, then that is the decision we have made as a global society; that money, minerals and energy are more important than biodiversity, unique cultures and natural beauty. There is a choice, we make it every day.
In 30 years time, I want to be able write a similar message in a logbook somewhere. What could possibly be a more worthwhile use of my limited time? What greater mark can I leave on the world than the complete lack of one, I cannot improve something which is already beautiful beyond measure.