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Stacy Bare
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Stacy Bare is a skier, climber, mountaineer, and sometimes surfer who served one tour of duty in Iraq as a Civil Affairs Team Leader after being recalled from the Individual Ready Reserve. He received his commission into the United States Army from the University of Mississippi and is currently Director of Sierra Club's Mission Outdoors program. Through direct programming, public education and advocacy, Mission Outdoors combats the growing divide between America and the outdoors by increasing opportunities for all to improve their overall well-being by exploring and enjoying the natural world.

Entries by Stacy Bare

Delisting the Grizzly Bear...or Not

(5) Comments | Posted December 15, 2014 | 4:41 PM

Doug Peacock is considered by many veterans as the godfather of the modern movement to connect those who have been to war with the physical land they fought for when they come home. Outside, Doug argues, veterans can search for, "...a peril [experience] the equivalent of war but aimed in...

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TentEd in Iraq; Interviews and Winter Edition

(0) Comments | Posted November 17, 2014 | 9:38 AM

video made by Romina Penate

Earlier this year we told you about TentEd, an humanitarian project started by three Iraq War veterans delivering school supplies to Syrian Refugees in Kurdistan in partnership with EPIC, a non-profit working to support a peaceful Iraq. TentEd's co-founder, Zack Bazzi, recently produced a short video about the project and is now preparing a return trip to the region in December. Since the first TentEd visit to Kurdistan, a lot has changed in the region so I sat down with Zack recently to find out what he sees has been accomplished and what he thinks he can get done with another visit to the region.

Tell us about how much you were able to fundraise for your first trip this last summer and what you were able to accomplish? (Include metrics, numbers of backpacks delivered, schools helped, children served)

I landed in Erbil, Iraq on 7 June. Two days later, Mosul, Iraq's second city, fell to ISIS. Needless to say, it complicated the project. I assessed the situation with my teammates back in the U.S. and we decided that I would stick around and see the project through. The Kurdistan Region of Iraq where I was is pretty stable and secure, and it is defended by a wall of hardened Peshmerga warriors. I was pretty comfortable with that decision.

I ended up staying in the Kurdistan region for a little over a month. It turned out to be a pretty productive stint. In just a few weeks we:

1) Stocked the Afreen Elementary School (in Domiz Refugee Camp) Library with 300 Arabic books
2) Purchased teaching supplies, stationary and furniture for the Derek Secondary School (also in Camp Domiz).
3) Funded three months of bus transportation for children who could not afford it at Garanawa Elementary School in Erbil.
4) Provided school uniforms for 200 girls and boys and badly needed shoes for nearly 100 first and second graders.
5) Distributed 200 stationary kits.

I think that's pretty good impact for $17,000.

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A lot of people would look at your work this last summer and I think be congratulatory for your efforts but with the headlines now discussing ISIS, why go back, are you afraid?

I'm going back because there continues to be a clear need for the sort of support that TentEd can provide. I also have many dear friends from all faiths and backgrounds in Kurdistan and so I'm going back to visit them. TentEd is not just a humanitarian project. It's also a personal initiative. Frankly, it's tough to figure out where the project part starts and the personal one begins.

The concern about danger is understandable, although, it is important for people to understand that the Kurdistan region in Iraq feels like a separate country all together. It has its own government, parliament and security forces. It's fairly secure and stable and I feel very safe traveling throughout that region. I ALWAYS present myself as a proud American veteran--never an issue. The people of Kurdistan love America. I think we should show them some love back.

Regarding risk, that's something I think about on a routine basis. One mantra that stuck with me from my Army days (also my favorite) is this: we don't avoid risk. We manage it. I think that's also a good way to live life. That's all the philosophy you'll get out of me!

You going back to Kurdistan, and you being in graduate school at Georgetown, brings up natural comparisons to Austin Tice, the Marine Combat Veteran who, while on summer break from law school went to cover events in Syria and has now been missing since 2012 (http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/05/03/war-nostalgia-is-leading-veterans-to-places-like-syria-one-marine-never-came-back.html). Some have labeled his return as 'war nostalgia'. Does war nostalgia factor into your decision to go back to Iraq?

No.

I've been out of the Army many many years now. I loved my time in uniform and if you ask me if I miss it sometimes, the answer is a definite yes. Most former soldiers will answer in the same way. I miss patrolling the mountains in Kosovo with 100 pounds of gear when I was deployed there with the 101st. And I miss the electric thrill of a firefight in Iraq and the extraordinary beauty of the Hindu Kush Mountains in Afghanistan.

All that is normal and healthy. But I'm also very comfortable and content being a reintegrated citizen. When the uniform comes off, it's time to move forward. I certainly don't live in the past.

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You don't take a salary for your work, so why not just send the funds raised here to do the same work and be administered by someone already in the region?

It's very important for me to maintain the trust with TentEd supporters and donors.
It frames every action and every decision. And crucial to maintaining that trust are two things: accountability and responsibly. As the person who oversees TentEd, I believe that it is my responsibility to personally implement the projects and ensure full accountability for each dollar invested. Our generous funders deserve nothing less.

Do you see any near term solution to the refugee crisis in Kurdistan? How long does TentEd need to continue?

Given the historic nature of what's happening throughout the broader Middle East, the demographic fracturing of Syria and Iraq and the intensity of the regional Shiite -Sunni rivalry, the refugee situation in Kurdistan is not likely to improve any time soon. Iraqi Kurdistan will continue grappling with wave after wave of refugees trying to escape the violence that's plaguing their communities. It's not a rosy predication, but that's the reality right now. This is why it's so vital now more than ever to support organizations that are trying to ease the situation.

To the second part of your question, I'm currently enrolled in an Emergency Management master's program at Georgetown University. The challenge is to balance school demands with the responsibilities of TentEd. So far, it's been a good balance. I plan to continue doing the occasional TentEd trip to (Iraqi) Kurdistan as long as I can maintain that balance.

What are your long-term goals professionally and with TentEd?

TentEd is a program within the Education for Peace in Iraq Center (EPIC). This provides the initiative a stable and very supportive home. For now it's one project at a time while I focus on grad school. After that, who knows!

What do you think the United States should be doing in the region to support a more stable Iraq and Syria?

That's a very complicated question. And if I had a good answer, chances are I would not be a student at the moment! What's really important is for those of us in a position to do something, whether through volunteer work or careful donations, to try and do what we can when we can.

As we close in on the American holiday season, why should people give to TentEd?

Because we're making direct impact on the ground in a place that urgently needs all the support possible. There is very little separating donated money from a school child who, to be frank, is not having the best winter.

I will be flying to Kurdistan in mid-December and I will spend my time there making sure that the $15,000 we raise is invested wisely and carefully. I can't think of a more appropriate and thrilling way to spend my holiday...

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Cleveland, Ohio Is a Magical Place

(21) Comments | Posted November 3, 2014 | 10:51 AM

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I grew up about 1,000 miles west of Cleveland, OH, but because of my brothers love of Icke Woods and the Cincinnati Bengals, I, ever the contrarian, became a fan of Cleveland's NFL team, the Browns.

A couple of weeks ago I got...

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Understanding an Avalanche: An Interview With Ken Wylie

(0) Comments | Posted October 22, 2014 | 3:36 PM

On October 7th of this year, internationally certified mountain guide, Ken Wylie published a book, Buried, analyzing his experiences and the role he played in a January 20, 2003 avalanche in the Selkirk Range of British Columbia on a mountain called La Traviatta. After a frantic hour of digging by...

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Commemorating 9/11 and Beyond

(0) Comments | Posted September 9, 2014 | 1:57 PM

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Since 2010, when Veterans Expeditions launched what I think was the first 9/11 Commemoration Climb to help America see the day as an opportunity to lead us to new heights vs. remembering only the despair and destruction, several other organizations...

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Should We All Get on a Bus to Missouri in the Morning?

(13) Comments | Posted August 14, 2014 | 9:54 AM

I am sitting on my couch paralyzed, impotent, and full of rage. Its 10:41 p.m., I have emails to catch up on and work I'm behind on and I'm glued to my Twitter feed. I'm frantically posting and emailing wondering if I shouldn't be organizing a bus to take people...

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I Am OK. Now what?

(1) Comments | Posted August 1, 2014 | 6:16 PM

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I don't do drugs anymore. I'm sober. I'm able to sleep through most nights, but waking up can still be a challenge. I'm in a stable job doing work that I love. I'm in the first year of what feels very much like...

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Following Up on Shinseki as a Hero

(0) Comments | Posted June 3, 2014 | 11:45 AM

On June 2, I wrote a blog titled "Shinseki is a Hero" and was encouraged by the vigorous discussion on social media. I was also surprised at the number of people who are blaming the former Secretary of the VA for Congress' inability to do their job outside...

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Shinseki Is a Hero

(3) Comments | Posted June 2, 2014 | 11:19 AM

General Shineski is a hero.

He took a job nobody wanted where everyone would criticize, few people would help, and yet he and a group of incredibly hard working public servants have done nothing short of revolutionizing the VA. In his five years of continued service to our nation he:

...
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Syrian Refugee Education: A Conversation With Zack Bazzi

(0) Comments | Posted April 23, 2014 | 1:24 PM

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Last week I had the opportunity to catch up with my good friend and fellow veteran Zack Bazzi who is planning on making a trip to Northern Iraq in June of this year to bring support to schools in refuge camps for Syrians...

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Three Bobcat Claps for Jon

(0) Comments | Posted April 23, 2014 | 11:35 AM

Our high school mascot was the Bobcat and we had this substitute teacher, an old Coach named Bill Gibbons who called us all "Bobcat" or "Young Bobcat." He never knew your name, or maybe he did, but he just called us all "Bobcat" anyway. And when something was cool or...

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Questions for Veteran Service Organizations and Me

(1) Comments | Posted April 7, 2014 | 5:44 PM

On Saturday, I posted my thoughts surrounding the responses to the shooting at Ft. Hood and there was quite a solid discussion on what ended up being the Facebook post about the many different reactions to the challenges of coming home from war, fitting in after a deployment,...

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Response to Fort Hood -- a Bigger Picture

(0) Comments | Posted April 5, 2014 | 3:09 PM

A lot of postulating about what to do with veterans in our country was already happening prior to the shootings at Fort Hood last week. We've seen an unsurprising spike of these conversations following the tragedy.

I've been a part of the conversation in some small way but would like...

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What's Happening in Venezuela

(0) Comments | Posted March 14, 2014 | 11:21 AM

In the spring of 2009, as part of a design studio looking at sustainable tourism in the beach and cocoa producing town of Choroní, I had the opportunity to visit Venezuela and was privileged to meet a number of people who I've stayed in close touch with since. I got...

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A Note on Chad Kellogg's Death

(1) Comments | Posted February 19, 2014 | 12:35 PM

You may have seen, if you are a climber or are friends with a climber, that this last week the climbing world lost a bright light in Chad Kellogg when a rock fall claimed his life in Patagonia. I did not know Chad personally, though I'm only two...

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A Few Words for the Dude Bros

(1) Comments | Posted February 4, 2014 | 11:50 AM

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Last year, at the age of 34 I did two things a lot of people never thought I would. I learned to ski (I used to snowboard... poorly) and I got married. It even snowed the day before our wedding... in September. Some...

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Interview With Teresa Baker, Creator of African American National Parks Event

(1) Comments | Posted February 3, 2014 | 12:28 PM

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There's a general perception in the outdoor recreation community that the black community simply doesn't go outdoors. Instead, it's a "white thing." In the last few years in my work, I've learned that while numbers for black Americans...

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The Shovel and Questions for America

(2) Comments | Posted January 16, 2014 | 10:13 AM

I wake up in the morning and feel like I've been hit in the face with a shovel.

I am baffled, disoriented, groggy and a little bit sore. I've got a headache.

I need you -- the American public who elected the officials that sent me to war --...

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Veterans Day: Get Outside

(0) Comments | Posted November 11, 2013 | 7:51 PM

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special thanks to USMC Mike Ramsey for the above photo

People always ask me the best way to say thank you to a veteran or service member and their families in what can often be an awkward exchange that muddles the heartfelt gratitude...

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Diversity & Mt. Everest: An Interview with Luis Benitez

(0) Comments | Posted September 9, 2013 | 12:40 PM

2013-09-09-LUISANDSHERPASESUMMIT02small.jpgAs the end of the summer mountaineering season comes to a close, I have been reflecting back on a big year that included one of the most disastrous events on Mt. Everest / Sagarmatha / Chomolungma and a year where it seems like...

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