The Story of Ubuntu

It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost four years since we hosted our first Ubuntu Charity Bouldering Competition. Our community has grown so much over the last four years that I thought it would be a good idea to share the inspiration and motivation behind the event for those that are just joining our community or never had the opportunity to hear about how it got started. Without further delay, “The Story of Ubuntu”…


“This Isn’t Your Thing”


Poster by Victor Huckabee.


In July 2009 I found myself at a Blood:Water Mission benefit in downtown Nashville to listen to some local music and to hear Donald Miller. The event was a fundraiser for one of Blood:Water’s initiatives called Ride:Well. I was unfamiliar with Blood:Water at the time, but I didn’t want to miss the chance to hear one of my favorite authors and catch some live music at the same time. Basically, Ride:Well is an annual event where a team of folks ride bikes from coast to coast during the summer, talking about Blood:Water Mission and raising money. Hearing a bunch of normal folks talk about their experiences riding bikes from California to Florida to raise money for a bunch of other folks across the world was pretty inspiring. As they do at most fundraisers, there was a time during the evening where we were asked to make a donation. While they were passing the hat for the Ride:Well crew, Miller made the following comment,


“Give and give generously. But don’t for a minute think that giving makes this ‘your thing.” This is their thing; you’re just helping them do it. You have to go out and find your thing.”


He wasn’t being arrogant or condescending; he was being accurate and convicting. That comment really stuck with me. So when, a few weeks later, Brad Edwards, a guy that climbed at The Crag from time to time and whom I had bumped in to at the Blood:Water event, came by to talk about his idea for hosting a charity bouldering comp for Blood:Water, I was ready to take action.


Why Ubuntu?




Ubuntu is an African word that describes the interconnectedness of humanity. In a phrase, ubuntu means, “I am, because we are.” We chose to name our event Ubuntu because of the sense of community that we rely on and enjoy as climbers, and because of the sense of community that drives us to help people we do not know, simply because we know they need the help. Our goal each year is to not only raise money for a non-profit organization, but also to inspire others to take action, to realize that they can take what they do well and use that to help others. By doing so, we hope to connect our community of climbers with other communities and to make the world a little bit smaller and a little more kind.


Why Non-Climbing Charities?



Climbers are, generally speaking, giving people. Climbing is a niche sport, so if we’re going to continue to enjoy it, we’re going to have to do things like trail days at Foster Falls and Kings Bluff, or fundraisers to buy areas that are in danger of being taken over by developers or closed for climbing like Holy Boulders or Boat Rock. Working with non-profits outside of climbing lets us be involved with fundraising for reasons other than self preservation. It also exposes the world at large to the generosity of the climbing community and hopefully in turn helps our community find other areas where their passions and interests can benefit others.


We’re excited about this year’s Ubuntu event and hope that you’ll join us June 21 as competitor, a spectator, or eager raffle ticket purchaser!

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