Written by Gavin Stevens
Ethan Ferraro, Dillon Kane, and I are all juniors in high school. The three of us have been friends for a few years now. At the start of our junior year, the three of us found ourselves enrolled in Mr. Garreth Heidt's Innovation Lab. Innovation Lab is an elective focused on purpose-driven learning and design thinking. Find more information regarding the class here. After learning the basic principles of design and entrepreneurship for the first 8 weeks or so of the school year, we began brainstorming ideas to direct our own purpose-driven learning.
Individually, we were all looking for our own long-term projects connecting to our purpose. An idea struck me one day, which wasn't so much an idea as it was an idea of an idea; throughout our foundational work in Innovation Lab, I started to realize that the experiences I treasure the most are centered around the outdoors. I have been involved with Boy Scouts for nine years now: I've spent over 150 nights camping, backpacked in New Mexico for 12 days, and circumnavigated St. Jon's over a week in a 40-foot sailboat. This coupled with my interest in photography and videography sprouted an idea that soon took over.
With this rough idea of what I wanted to do, I reached out to Ethan and Dillon because I knew they both shared the same interest in the outdoors.
I knew that Ethan was always outside: whether it was hunting, fishing, or hiking, he was interested. Not only that, but Ethan has an influential network of people within the community. He had connections with a potential mentor of ours, Ethan Hodson, who is the founder of the street-ware company RAMBL, and would prove to help us immensely as we started to move into apparel.
Dillon was the same way, for him snowboarding and hunting in particular. He also has had experience with fundraising as the class secretary.
Ethan, Dillon, and I are all well-versed in the outdoors, but we knew we needed someone else who knew what they were doing in terms of marketing & online branding. This is where our Director of Public Relations & Marketing Emma Cotter came aboard. Emma brought with her experience in marketing and public relationships from her internships and was a perfect fit for our team.
We now had an idea and a team of hard-working and passionate people, but no clue where to start.
We decided to follow the design thinking process, and like all those before us who have made a change in the world, we first recognized a problem. Collectively, we noticed that less and less people were going outside and enjoying nature, but why?
New advances in technology and the rise of social media all seem to be underlying causes of this decline in a connection with the outdoors. Articles continue to emerge showing how streaming platforms and social media companies are intentionally engineered to be addicting, especially towards teens. The average screen time for an American 8-to-12 is 4 hours and 44 minutes, per The Washington Post. No matter how you frame it, these devices are addicting. It's a hard reality to accept, as we all like to think we aren't addicted to these devices ourselves, and they certainly have their uses, but using them in excess has become the norm. Thus, we have centered our brand around promoting a passion for the outdoors, coining the name "Living Now" in hopes of spreading this message about living in the moment through adventure.
This was an exciting time. There were many Friday and Saturday nights spent at our local Starbucks constructing the foundation of Living Now, as well as many restless nights simply thinking about what this could become.
After the basic concept and mission were established we hit a wall: the project was at a standstill. We had no idea what to do next, and it seemed as though the aspirations we had might have been set a little too high- but that is when we heard about an upcoming field trip...
The entirety of the two Innovation Lab classes spent the day at Corbett Inc.'s Flux Space in Norristown, Pennsylvania. Flux Space is an environment developed to "address the need for better learning experiences and environments." Check out their website here. The field trip entailed a presentation on design thinking, work time for projects, and time to present your project to a panel in the search of feedback.
We used this time productively as a result of the unique atmosphere Flux Space provided. More importantly, our presentation went even better than we could have hoped for. The feedback from the professionals on the panel was astounding and showed us just how much potential we had. This was a major step forward for the team.
Over our Thanksgiving break from school, we planned three trips to four locations. Each day, the plan was to film and take pictures in order to gather content to continuously post. We also invited a variety of guests to come along with us to further spread the philosophy of "living now." For the first day, we traveled to Sullivan Falls near Ricketts Glenn, PA as well Powder Hole is Wapwallopen, PA.
For Day 2, the team and a few guests traveled to the Appalachian Trail at 2 AM in pursuit of sunrise. We began hiking around 3:30 AM and made it to the famous Pinnacle Point along the Appalachian Trail for sunrise. It was a once in a lifetime experience.
Day 3 entailed a hike to the top of Mount Tammany to views of the Delaware Water Gap from above. We unexpectedly came across a series of waterfalls on the way down as well.
While all of this was going on, we had our first batch of Living Now shirts printed and sold. We are almost sold out, they can be found here.
The past few weeks have been a lot of administration work. We are going through the process of registering our business (opening bank accounts, business plans, etc.) This has also included starting our website. We have also spent a lot of time editing the content from our Fall Break trips. Show some love on the video:
For winter break, we made Living Now sweatshirts. They are Champion Eco-Blend Hoodies. Made from recycled polyester, a portion of our proceeds will be going to The Nature Conservancy. Find them on the website, and buy yours today before they are sold out. We have limited sizes!
We intend on reaching as large of an audience as possible, specifically moving outside the walls of our school. Whether this will mean blogs, podcasts, or more YouTube videos, we are looking to explore more options for growth. We also are planning bigger and better trips for the future, so stay tuned for more content. If you are interested in coming along with the team one of our trips, stay tuned for more information on how you can get involved. Follow our Instagram for more info.
On behalf of the Living Now team, we would like to thank everyone for their immense support over the past few months of our launch. Happy Holidays.