The Big Wild: a community for sharing wilderness experiences... and ensuring there are more of them

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Glacier Lake (credit Laurie Edward,

Some of my fondest memories involve wilderness - whether it's a campfire with my parents, a hike with Alex to a glacial lake, or watching my children gape in awe at a sunflower sea star in a Cortes Island tidal pool.

Now wonder, then, that one of our favourite projects in quite a while is The Big Wild: an online community where people can share stories, photos and video of their wilderness experiences, connect with others who share their passion for Canada's big wild spaces, and take action to preserve those places for future generations.

It's a partnership between the Mountain Equipment Co-op and the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society. That marriage that makes a lot of sense: Canada's premiere retailer of gear for enjoying the wilderness (and a huge membership-based organization), together with one of the country's leading voices for protecting it.

MEC and CPAWS brought us in because, while the site was winning them a lot of praise and attention, it wasn't getting the participation they knew it could.

We helped them simplify and clarify the workflow on the site, and put the focus squarely on community-contributed content by giving it pride of place on the front page. The Big Wild's team upgraded the site late this winter, with FCV Technologies moving them to Drupal (and adding or improving some welcome features like RSS feeds, full-site search and tagging). It's still early days, but things are definitely picking up.

We'd love to know what you think. If you enjoy getting out into the wilderness, then take a short hike over to The Big Wild. Add your voice to support the Big Wild vision of protecting at least half of Canada's public spaces as wilderness forever. And while you're at it, join the Big Wild Facebook page.

And then why not enter The Big Wild's latest contest? You could win a truly amazing Gore-Tex jacket by sharing your story of a rain-soaked wilderness excursion.

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