connect to the cold


As modern humans, we are often tempted to hide from the elements in order to maintain homeostasis, to avoid discomfort in the form of excess heat, wind, rain, or cold. Most of us, at least some of the time, have access to tools, shelters, and materials that help protect us from physical discomfort.

But this February, we posit the questions:

What happens if you get closer to the elements? Rather than hiding from the season, what happens if we try instead to dive deep into winter?

Each week this month, in exploration of these questions, we will share a challenge via the Freeflow newsletter, socials, and this webpage. The challenges are meant to inspire you to get outside, (re)connect to wild(ish) places near you, feel the physicality of winter, and ignite a creative fire within you. We are also giving away some really dope prizes – including a kayak from our friends at Pyranha.

Freeflow’s Connect to the Cold campaign is also meant to raise awareness of our work and mission.

The Freeflow Foundation is building a more holistic scholarship program to help people from lower-income and underserved communities access outdoor education, recreation, and space for creative development. These extra supports include a mentorship program, a travel and childcare fund, and an enhanced gear lending library – in addition to our existing scholarship offerings. By helping people from all backgrounds get out on Freeflow courses, regardless of economic means or prior experience, we are democratizing outdoor education and access to the arts. 

WEEK ONE | Immerse yourself in the cold. Choose a way to connect with the cold near your home place. If you live near a body of water that you can access safely, you might consider the powerful practice of cold-dipping. If you have access to a trail, park, mountain, or patch of backyard, you might make it your practice to simply get outside, no matter the conditions or temperature, and to be physically present in the elements. While we encourage you to commit to a full month of getting outside – a little dose of cold every day in February – intentionally immersing yourself in the cold once a week will be immensely beneficial. The point here is to get a little more comfortable with the initial discomfort of cold, safely, purposefully, and with love for the process. It’s also to build a sustained connection to an outdoor space near you, to witness its dynamic beauty in winter, to feel your physical place within that space, regardless of the season. Commit to getting out into the cold at an interval that works for you, for all 29 days of February.

WEEK TWO | Do it with your friends. Doing hard things is so much better with friends. The same goes for seeing beautiful things, or experiencing awe, or witnessing magic: the moment is richer when you share it with people you love. We feel the same is true for creative work. Often we see writing or art-making as a solo, private, lonely endeavor. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can share your creative journey with others. So, this week, go outside or into the cold water with a friend (or two or three). Document it. Tag us. Share your reel or photos or written reflection. Revel in your community, the cold, and the wild spaces around you.

WEEK THREE | Do it with good coffee in hand. Building off of last week’s challenge, this week we acknowledge the importance of community partners: the people who lift us up when things are hard. For Freeflow, one of our favorite partners is our local coffee roaster, Black Coffee Roasting Company. BCRC fuels every Freeflow adventure with beans and provides our town, Missoula, Montana, with two comfy coffee shop spaces. (Neither BCRC shop offers wifi, which is a rad and unique gift in this hyperconnected modern world.) This week, get into the cold water or out into your wild space with a cup of your favorite coffee (or tea, or cocoa, or kombucha) in hand. Tag your local roaster / tea-maker / fermenter in your post to spread the love. Tag us and share. 

WEEK FOUR | Capture it with words or art. Good art and good writing often comes from direct experience: physical, visceral moments in the world in which your senses are firing. In real time, you notice things. You perceive what’s beyond the obvious, what’s between the lines, what lies just past the tip of your nose or the reach of your fingers. You’re an observer and a participant. You are curious, receptive, and open. This week, approach your cold-weather or cold-water adventure with the curious receptivity of the artist you are. Soak it up with your senses. And then, sometime later, create something that captures the experience in a compelling way. A poem? An illustration? A video? An essay or reflection? Whatever feels right. Then, bravely, share it (and don’t forget to tag us).

step one | GET OUTSIDE




step three | SUPPORT OTHERS


step four | WIN RAD STUFF



1) Contribute $20 to the Community Scholarship Fund. Every donation of $20 or more is an entry!

2) Participate in our awareness campaign. Each week in February, we’ll post a new challenge. You can earn up to three entries in our giveaway each week.

  • ONE ENTRY = Share your response to the weekly challenge on social media. Tag @freeflowinstitute and @freeflowfoundation and link to our fundraising page.
  • ONE MORE ENTRY = Do the above, plus tag three friends whom you think would love Freeflow.
  • ONE ENTRY = Share a piece of your personal Freeflow story on social media, tag @freeflowinstitute and @freeflowfoundation and link to our fundraising page. If you’ve not been on a Freeflow course yet, you can share why the Freeflow values matter to you (one post per week) – and tag us!

3) Fire up your own personal fundraiser for The Freeflow Foundation. Create a fundraiser on any of the platforms below wherein you commit to Connecting to the Cold every day during the month of February. Write up a narrative on why you’re doing this – why connecting to the cold matters to you, your creative practice, and / or your relationship with wild places near you. Share it with your people, and invite them to celebrate your commitment (and to support Freeflow Scholars!) by pledging to your fundraiser. Every $20 your fundraiser earns gets you another entry in the giveaway!


Every entry you earn into our giveaway is a chance at winning one of these prizes from our partners:

If you create your own fundraiser, you’re eligible for these bonus prizes: