WHAT’S IN A NAME? A Proposal. by F. Wes Breitenbach

Co-Editor F. Wes Breitenbach out for a wintery rip…

I was manning the DBP booth at a river fest when an older gentleman approached from the adjacent booth. He began his small talk and so I obliged. Shortly into the conversation, he began to express his dislike for the name Dirt Bag Paddlers. I asked why he felt this way and the best he could come up with was that he just didn’t like it, in particular the term Dirt Bag, and went on to explain that he associated Dirt Bag with a low life,  someone with not much going on, a lazy no-good kind of person. I knew I wouldn’t have much luck with this conversation so I kindly explained to him that, as far as I was concerned, this was not the case with this group. I told him that in the short time I had been associated with Dirt Bag Paddlers I had not only been given the opportunity to meet some amazing and outstanding people who are at the pinnacle of the paddling world, but average Joes cleaning up the river’s edge and spreading the good word of good paddling. I don’t know what he was looking for but he wasn’t going to get this dog to fight. I can’t be for sure, but I think my calm thoughtful response to his comments removed the wind from his sails and he drifted back to his booth.  
This got me thinking. I know I have some great stories about this ragtag bunch of no-good do-gooders. I have witnessed random and intentional acts of kindness. I have seen people encouraging each other to do their best in all aspects of life, not just whitewater. I have watched as people have reached out to brothers and sisters in the communities that are not even theirs. Stories ranging from kids losing everything in a house fire in the winter who just needed some clothes, to one guy that needed a marrow donor for his daughter. Although we can’t donate directly to someone in this situation some of us stepped up and got on the marrow donor list. I’ve witnessed people encouraging each other to lose weight, push themselves to accomplish a goal, or improve themselves. I’ve watched artists not only showing but selling their work.  
Wes out on a mission
Hell, if you have ever bought a sticker, hat, patch or panties you have chipped in to help the greater cause of this group of “low lifers”. We get together and WE help out. Plain and simple. Sure we have joked and we have poked fun but we also do it in good spirits and with love. (I am talking to you whitewater SUPers! Wink, nudge!) We do not put ourselves above anyone else. If anything we push our fellow paddlers to do what they want. To live the dream however that dream looks to them.
Editor-In-Chief Chicago Mike Toughill post SUP Wallace on Lake Michigan…
So I put out a request to you. Share your stories with us. It can be a story about yourself or someone you know. It can be about anything but preferably something related to this group and how it has contributed to a change or a difference as you witnessed. Tells us about that dirtbag you helped or the one that helped you. Maybe you heard a story that touched your heart, it’s time to let the world know. It could be something little or grandiose. We are not here to judge but to read, enjoy and encourage. I am a proud Dirt Bag and I know you are too! So let’s see what you got!  
DBP 4 LIFE! Or as long as we can keep it going?
This is my son and our canoe full of trash during a river clean up. Putting the dirty in Dirtbag
Giving blood. I am CMV negative and O- so they use my bold for babies. Yep. Tattoos. So lowlife! 
Helping relocating a racoon that was causing trouble in the neighborhood. Typical Dirtbaggin’!
My bone marrow donor card. A post on DBP by another member of the community on behalf of his daughter inspired myself and scores of others to sign up to be donors. 
Community. My dirtbag brethren’s boats.
“We are more like the dirtbags on the other side of the globe, than the 99% of our neighbors down the street who will NEVER hazard their lives on a whitewater river.”
Have a story to share, an idea for an article, or something to get off your chest? easiest way to hit us up is by messaging our Facebook page-

“We exist to share stories of paddlers of all disciplines from all over the world; to interview icons and play makers in the paddling community and whitewater industry; to preserve the stories of our collective history; to raise awareness of and to protect our rivers and resources; to promote whitewater festivals and events; to report on competitions and competitors in the race community; to give a home to the artistic side of paddling in poetry, artwork, music, comics, and humor; to be inclusive not exclusive, to preach unity and support, safety and camaraderie; to break down the barriers that separate society; to have a global outlook with a local feel; and to celebrate the Dirtbag Lifestyle!”
So get out there, be awesome, and make this world a better place!!
All Forward Thinking. 
That’s what it’s all about! Expanding our sport’s horizons is something we are actively doing… Reminding each other that our community is the same no matter where the River is, the color of skin or language spoken. On The River it’s all one language, the language of Flow. 

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