RATC leader manages community-oriented enterprise: Outdrz.net
Many RATC members know Chris Means as RATC’s Membership Coordinator or as an early co-organizer of the Roanoke Outdoor Adventure Club. But there is a lot more to his story!
As Chris will soon be completing a long and successful career at Elizabeth Arden here in the Roanoke Valley, he’s already been thinking about the future. He still enjoys his work but admits that,
Undoubtedly I had the most fun in my working life at a skate/T-shirt shop in the booming metropolis of Charleston, West Virginia. I of course never made much money at this and eventually moved on, but the atmosphere was fun, my co-workers were incredible, and the job was essentially easy as love mingling with the public. I recall this as the ‘good times’ era in my life. Fast forward 30 years and I find myself entertaining the possibility of doing something similar, but with more thoughtful motivation.
The result is Outdrz.net, Chris’s web-driven effort (also found on Facebook) to combine four goals:
- Create and sell great quality products through his online shop.
- Get others addicted to the outdoors by any means possible. Vicariously will work, but my aim is to help others find the medicinal value I’ve stumbled onto out there, and if I’m really lucky, ignite a passion for conservation in a few individuals along the way.
- Generate enough income to keep this little venture solvent, and who knows, maybe even make a buck or two.
- Contribute a percentage of all profit funds to groups currently doing vital work out there conservation groups and other nonprofits.
In 2018, Outdrz.net contributed to:
- Roanoke Rescue Mission – The Butterfly Fund
- Straight Street
- Roanoke Skatepark Initiative
- Smiles Forever Animal Rescue
- Salem/Roanoke County Food Pantry
- Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club
- Camp Bethel
- Roanoke Rescue Mission – Addiction Recovery Programs
- Big Brothers Big Sisters of SW Virginia
When asked why he started Outdrz.net, Chris said he was retrieving a part of his life that had slowly disappeared over the years. “I’d all but forgotten about walking in the woods,” he noted, even though he was a Boy Scout and grew up in a family of hunters who often wandered in the woods after a big meal to relax. He decided to make some changes.
As I started easing back out into the woods I can’t really label or give a name to the feelings I started to recall and the level of serenity that slowly came over me as I’d just walk along and sort through things mentally. At this stage I don’t care to give this sensation a name or categorize it. I only care that I never lose the ability to be exposed to it, and I want it always to be available for anyone else who might draw the same experiences from a simple bit of time spent in the outdoors.
Going deeper, Chris shares the philosophy that has led him to early retirement, a new life split between Nova Scotia and Roanoke, and a deep commitment to the outdoors and thoughtful living:
As a species a lot of us humans appear to be in a constant battle to live up to or achieve the levels of suggested success that we’ve been fed and conditioned to understand as “correct.” Some examples: the $250k house, 2 vehicles, 3 kids and at least 2 household pets. Get, get, get; more more more and so on and so on. In my humble opinion I’ve heard it said best as “We will not understand as a people the value of the pristine outdoors until the last fish is gone, there are no more trees to cut down, and the forest animals have diminished, at which time we’ll come to realize that you cannot eat a $100 bill,” although I can’t remember who said this.
I’m just hugely grateful that the forests, trails, rivers and streams were there for me when it was time for me to revert back to what was once normal, and give a different life style a shot. The outdoors are always open, they forever have a new and interesting story just waiting in them for me to uncover, and they’ve never left me feeling slighted. The outdoors are there for me to utilize to my heart’s content. and that is one of the main motivating factors for me attempting this endeavor – to tell whoever will listen about what I’d forgotten about and since rediscovered, what it has done for me, where it resides, and lastly how we as a group can protect it for future generations…
RATC thanks him for his work on the AT and in the community. Check out his website and Facebook page!