There is a lot more to Jackson Hole local Lynsey Dyer that meets the eye. Not only is she a professional skier, she is also an artist and humanitarian. We recently heard about Dyers journey to India where she put her artistic and humanitarian skills to work.
It’s an inspirational story that reminds us just how lucky we are to have the opportunity to ski. We call out Lynsey Dyer and talk to her about her recent trip to India and her artwork.
Name: Lynsey DyerÂ
Hometown: Jackson, Wyoming
Sponsors: First Ascent, Jackson Hole, Gordini, Tecnica/Blizzard, Scullcandy,Â SheJumps, Avalon 7, ABS Packs, Intuition Liners
You just got back from India. What were you doing over there?
I was volunteering to bring happiness -as I like to call it- in the form of bikes, art and yoga, to kids who have been rescued from slavery on behalf of two non-profits, 88 Bikes and Free the Slaves in conjunction with SheJumps.
While I was there, we visitedÂ bothÂ a boys ashram and delivered 33 bikes, plus a girls ashram where we delivered 17 bikes.Â The boy’s ashram was located outside Allehabad. Allehabad, was a place way off the beaten path, when we arrived everyone was immediately overwhelmed with the filth, poverty and stench of this part of India. Basically, we didnâ€™t eat for the first 5 days because nothing looked safe enough and on top of that it was actually pretty scary first being a white girl in a foreign country.
After acclimating, right away I started negotiating with local bike shop owners for the best price and then tried to figure out how we would deliver the bikes. ItÂ wasÂ a crazy experience because in India, they are not used to women making business decisions. At one time I felt like the godfather was sitting across from me in a small dark room with 7 dudes all huddled around him staring at us, heavy in negotiations. I also learned quickly that IndianÂ time isnâ€™t the same as American time. When someone says â€œI will deliver the bike in two days.â€, thatÂ translates to 5 days. That being said,Â I also learned quickly that you have to be super tough and assertive to get anything done so that youâ€™re not taken advantage of.Â
The volunteering has been amazing though! Giving a kid a bike is the equivalent of giving him a Ferrari, besides being one of the most fun toys ever, it offers himÂ a means of transportation. That often means he will transport his entire family on that thing, (Iâ€™ve seen up to 5 on one bike)Â and also be able to travel for work or supplies.Â
Giving women a bike is even more empowering though. Usually,Â only men can afford bikes so the NGOâ€™s (non-governmental organizations) here say itâ€™s the most direct form of empowerment theyâ€™ve ever seen. These women have come from lives of torture in traveling circuses,Â or asÂ exotic dancers, or as child prostitutesÂ and suffered scares and torment that cannot even be imagined. Riding a bike isnâ€™t necessarily on their radar.
However, immediately after receiving a bike and feeling the wind blow through their hair,Â the women here feel powered by their own means. They feel for the first time that they can do anything, that maybe there is good in the world, that they can take care of themselves and donâ€™t have to go back to the lives they had before.
It was truly an honer to work with these girls, playing games and running around chasing giant frogs like normal kids along with helping them paint a mural of what theyâ€™d like their futures to look like was a treat. We came away with huge bug bites from who knows what in the beds and a gnarly stomach ache from who knows what in the food but the experience was a life changer.
I now haveÂ aÂ renewed drive to take advantage of all that the western world has to offer. To be the absolute best person I can be with the life I have been so fortunate to have been born into. These girls didnâ€™t even have the opportunity to learn to read or write, let alone know how old they were and to them I feel an obligation to make myself as whole a person as possible, as educated as possible, and as mentally strong as possible so that my energy can add to the wholeness of the planet instead of the fear that makes slavery possible.
I know trying to save all those who suffer in the world isnâ€™tÂ the answerÂ for just one person and that as long as there are sick people who want to take advantage of others the demandÂ ofÂ slavery will persist. The answer,Â that India taught me,Â laying in bed oneÂ nightÂ as I wasÂ listening to dogs howling outside my window,Â lies in healing ourselves,Â through education, dealing with our own inner battles and disciplining our thoughts because we really are tiny parts of a bigger whole and what we do and think and feel individually really does effect the larger whole.
WOW! That was one heck of an answer! That sounds amazing. What can people do to help?
BesidesÂ monetarilyÂ supporting the places and non-profitsÂ who support these kids year round, you can begin by making yourself whole. It may sound new age and my own friends and family will call me crazy,Â but soon,Â we will learn that what we do to others really does come around, that the only authentic happiness comes from truly being in the moment and experiencing it for what it is and connecting to something bigger than ourselves.Â It is hard to see sometimes, but true happinessÂ comes from detachment from our egos,Â notÂ from â€winningâ€ and gaining more money and power and the fear that there isnâ€™t enough for everyone. Peace comes from the inside, from connection to each other, and to the energy all around us. We have so much more potential than we know.
I think skiers are some of the people who will change the world. We love being outside and are proving to the rest of the world that humans can do more than most think is possible, we just do it on skis. We areÂ celebrating the mountains, and encouraging others to participate. We are connecting withÂ the mountains and playing!Â And as long as we keep our egoâ€™s in check, weÂ canÂ create healthy communities that supportÂ the bigger whole. Though Iâ€™m no saint and have only experienced tiny bits of what Iâ€™d call wholeness, this isÂ whatâ€™sÂ what Iâ€™m dedicating myself to nowÂ â€“Â for myself, for these girls, and for the world.
How did the trip come about?Â
Iâ€™ve always wanted to volunteer in a developing country and I love what 88 Bikes represented. The idea of sharing happiness instead of focusing on how sad the situation is I think is how we can help change things around the world. I want all kids to have the chance to be real kids and get to play! And what a better way to do that than on a bike.
Why would you tell someone that they should participate/volunteer in activities like this?
Iâ€™d say volunteering is an amazing way to experience a place for real but it comes with huge challenges. There were times I wanted to give up because theÂ problems seemed too big, and times IÂ felt guilty just for being a white American, and times I wanted to scream becauseÂ everywhere weâ€™d go, people wouldnâ€™t stop staring or following us but there were amazing perspective changes as well.
When did you begin to develop anÂ interest in art?Â
In kindergarten, everyone loves art inÂ kindergartenÂ because weÂ hadnâ€™tÂ yetÂ learned to judge ourselvesÂ as a good artist or a bad oneâ€”those were the days.Â We just loved getting messy withÂ fingerpaintÂ and eatingÂ play-doh!Â Remember?
Where does your inspiration come from?Â
Being outside and trying not to take everything so seriously.Â
Do you have a favorite artist?
I like Banksy,Â the street artist.
Any other skiers out there you know of that are good artists?
Oh ya! I love Erik Pollard and JPâ€™s stuff, haveÂ youÂ seen the AlpineÂ Initiatives website? Itâ€™s brilliant, nice work JP, and way to do something for kids! Then thereâ€™s Chris Bentchetlerâ€™s cartoonist style, which is super fun! I like his ski.Â Sage is an amazing artist too!
Plus, there’sÂ â€œpeepsâ€ who are shooting photosâ€”I canâ€™t waitÂ untilÂ Freeskier letâ€™s us publish some athlete shot pics! I love some of Riley Leboes imagesâ€”heâ€™s so creative. And,Â as far as music goes, former US ski team Brian Freedman is super good on the acoustic guitar, check him out! Iâ€™m sure thereÂ areÂ so many more…skiers are creative all around but Iâ€™m proud to know these guys.
Where can people check out your art?
My website needs some work but itâ€™s,Â lynseydyer.comÂ plus Iâ€™ve recently designed some 100% recycled, American-made water bottles benefiting Shejumps too! Check those out at Liberty Bottles, theyâ€™re a brand new company with good intentions.
Any shout outs?
Thanks to my new sponsors who are supporting what I believe in, First Ascent, you rule! Tecnica Blizzard for being a huge new supporter and 88 Bikes;Â Freetheslaves.org;Â andÂ my girls atÂ Shejumps.orgÂ who put up with me leaving for over a month;Â Claire, Van, Hannah, Ashley, Liz, and the rest! It hasnâ€™t been easy but weâ€™re being the change we want to see in the world.
For more on Lynsey and everything she is doing check out lynseydyer.com.