Ever Change: Running Back Down to Earth
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s royal wedding dominated the news in 2018, overshadowing much more important matters like the fact that monarchies even still exist and the release of the hottest beach read ever: you all know it, Down to Earth: Politics in the New Climatic Regime by Bruno Latour. When the US threatened to pull out of the Paris Agreement, Latour, a world-renowned philosopher (in the sense that maybe 3 or 4 people have sort of heard of him) did what academics do best: he wrote a book absolutely nobody read. Down to Earth is a spicy page-turner about climate change. With a title that just rolls right off the tongue, it’s destined to be the next big summer blockbuster featuring The Rock as climate change. Until the movie version comes out, we’ve summed up Latour’s key message for you: the earth is changing and so must we.
We need to find a better, common perspective at ground level, between ourselves, the planet, and all its creatures. And only fashion can save us. So Latour didn’t say that exactly, but he does want his readers to find creative ways of fostering the kind of perspective he talks about. The art and practice of running can be such a way. Ever Change (Chapter V) from PRAISE ENDURANCE explores that possibility with ecological optimism, as much as a fashion brand can. With A New High, running reached new heights. Now the Ever Change collection brings running back down to earth. Bezos and Musk, the worst folk band in history, might be trying to die on Mars but the rest of us are learning to live better right here. And we need to hit the ground running, while there’s still ground to run on.
Human beings have an exploitative relationship with nature but running can be a step towards changing that or at least in knowing we’re capable of making a change. Think about how hard running is at first, how downright antagonistic you may have felt about it. If you don’t give up and keep at it, running eventually becomes easier, even enjoyable. Right now, the climate situation looks bleak and it feels like we’re living in the final episode of the 90’s TV show Dinosaurs, when the dad tells his whole family he caused the end of the world by building a wax fruit factory. We need to be reminded that there’s still time to turn things around (we’re better than those dinosaurs and their wax fruit factories, damnit). Wearing our Ever Change collection won’t magically reduce carbon emissions (or will it?) however running is a sustainable way to build our optimism for change. It’s never too late to start exercising just like it’s never too late to start caring about the planet. But today is better than tomorrow. And why not do it in Ever Change gear? You gotta wear something (or do you?).
So, where’s the starting line? How do we even begin to think differently about our environment? Speed and scale are two major obstacles. Scientists warning us that the earth will be warming up by one or two degrees over the next few decades, triggering a global disaster, doesn’t quite have the same sense of urgency as the image of planets being instantly vaporized by giant lasers in Star Wars. We’ve shed more tears for the fictional Alderaan than actual melting glaciers. That’s largely because we can see Alderaan explode whereas an environmental crisis is hard to visualize. Star Wars taught us two vital lessons: holograms will always look bad, stop acting like it’s the technology of the future, and if we want to unite folks against a common threat it helps if they can easily point to that threat, like a hard-to-miss giant steel ball in space that shoots lasers.
Climate change is so vast, multifaceted, and slow, it feels a bit unreal and impossible to address. Not to mention what a stressful topic it is. And you know what helps with stress—gin and tonics. No, it’s running. It’s an activity that also has a way of rescaling the world and bringing it into focus. Everything is a bit smaller, closer, more concrete when you’re running. Planning running routes also lets you know your surroundings intimately. You develop a unique perspective of the land you run on. Running forces you to engage physically with the natural world, to feel its contours, and textures, and the weight of the atmosphere. In short, running is a material encounter with the earth.
Most obviously, the special relationship between a runner and the land is one that makes us hyper aware of ourselves as bodies in motion. That the earth’s beauty has a spiritual impact on us and helps us soar outside of ourselves when we reach that running flow is wonderful, but we should also stay planted firmly on the ground and think about how we move through the world. Listening to the sound of our feet, of our breathing, and of our heart pumping, feeling the sweat on our skin and our temperature rising, gives us a sense of the space our bodies occupy. How we inhabit our body says a lot about the kind of inhabitant we are. As we build a running practice, we become more confident in what our body can do and what it can recover from, and by extension we become conscious of the physicality of the world around us, its fragility, resilience, and healing powers. In addition to promoting inner contemplation, running helps us look outward at the planet we run on as another body, as our exoskeleton, which needs our protection.
Running is just one form of granting the world a story that’s a little more personal and a little less abstract. We could all use some of that after spending 18 months on Zoom and barely recognizing our own faces unless it’s grainy and in a square. Every new technology leaves society feeling increasingly alienated from the natural world. But the deeply disembodied experience of living in digital spaces has made us forget more quickly that things don’t last forever. This is a reality more easily accepted by connecting with nature, where everything decomposes and is recomposed into something new. No state is permanent, and all states bring with them a certain beauty. There’s nothing quite like a run, where you become one with your environment, to serve as a reminder that we’re all connected in this natural process. Running gear in the Ever Change collection comes in earthy tones designed to enhance this sense of kinship. We will also be introducing layering for runs through tough weather so we’ll have no excuse not to leave the house for our daily communion with nature.
Okay so maybe it’s not that easy to make a meaningful connection with a pile of leaves. But what about a crab? A grasshopper? Or this good boi who will outlive us all? Animals in general are our emotional link to a crisis that can feel quite distant at times; they provide us with a certain environmental focus in a situation that’s otherwise dim and hazy. These particular animals share one thing in common: they’re all protected by an exoskeleton. The concept of an exoskeleton is one of the inspirations behind Ever Change. And before you say that’s weird, consider how remarkable and ever changing an exoskeleton is: it can be rigid, soft, built upon, or discarded altogether. Crabs have been into body modification since before it was cool. It’s incredible what we can see and learn when we take a moment to look down. Aren’t we all a little bit rigid, and soft, and modifiable? Isn’t the earth? Isn’t that one thing we all have in common? Change starts with discovering deep entanglements in unexpected places and running conditions you to connect and rely on others. By caring about the community we run with, we learn to extend that care to the environment we live in.
We’re not saying running is the answer to all the world’s problems but maybe it can open up fresh perspectives on the problems in your little patch of earth. Re-orienting our thinking about the broader, social benefits of running is good practice for re-orienting how we care about each other and this planet. One of the most wonderfully surprising aspect of running is that it teaches us about interconnectedness. And perhaps more importantly, it teaches us that endurance isn’t just about running longer, it’s not about extending our stay on this earth as long as we can. It’s about running better, making the most of our time here, and knowing when it’s time for a change.