Eric Beckstead

During the summer of 2014 Eric Beckstead and Alex Bergeron set out on a journey to find and document individuals that have a deep connection with themselves, others and the world we live in. They created a video magazine called “Speaking a Lost Language“, which premiers on Thursday March 26 at the Lululemon ForeLise store with the official afterparty at Garfinkel’s . I caught up with Beckstead to learn more about the project and the “Free Collective” – the people he’s brought together to continue to create these videos.

Eric Beckstead of The Free Collective.

What Inspired You to Start This Project?

After I was injured skiing I started focusing on my artistic passions but I was pulled into more corporate and commercial work. My job was literally to make products and people appear better then they were in real life and as I began getting an insight into this world I was increasingly frustrated. Why is Kim Kardashian the most famous woman in the world? Why is she making 50 times more then the president of the United States? I was falling into this trap and I had to get out. I needed to do the opposite of what everyone else was trying to do. The opposite being to bring people into the spotlight that really make a difference in this world whether it be in their community, culture or the wider world. The Free Collective was a way to establish a sort of anti-brand with a sort of “Robin Hood” approach. We don’t agree with the class system and imposed laws that keep the 1 percenter’s richer then the rest of the world. This world does not need more famous people. The planet desperately needs healers, conservationists and people willing to share new, or even old options, towards sustainability.

Our aim was to make connections with unique people, groups and cultures that shared our vision of community; common-unity. We, as a civilization, used to buy or trade out of necessity, relying on one another for survival and sharing a purpose. Now we buy to be better, stronger, sexier and will step on anyone on our way to get there. Alex and I share the opinion that we aren’t supposed to live this way.

Freedom Collective, by Eric Beckstead.

Any Connections That You Found Specifically Inspiring?

I had my inspiration while we were at the end of the road in the Northwest Territories spending time with a remote group of Dene First Nations in their community of Wrigley. When we arrived in Wrigley it soon became obvious what the effects that reservations, residential schooling, technology, drugs, alcohol and commercialism had on these people. Even this far north we found shattered communities that were the remnants of a culture that had thrived for thousands of years on the basis of common values and connections. The one time everyone really seemed connected was during their annual Games, which we had come to document. I knew that community was important before I set out on the trip but after witnessing first hand how much happiness a simple game could have on a town I knew it was more important then ever that we share with people the things that really matter in this life.

Smudging with white sage at the end of the road in Northwest Territories.

What Were You Expecting When You Started This and What Has It Actually Become?

I think we both expected to be really inspired by our first project by meeting these traditional communities up north. We were really excited because our core values really mirror the traditional values of the first nations so we decided that to begin a project we must start at the roots of our society. When we got there, as I mentioned before, we realized these people had been ripped from there traditions and many had literally had their language beat out of them during imposed residential schooling. We met a 91 year-old mother who couldn’t speak to her daughter as she’d been kidnapped and forced into residential school where they only spoke English and not their native dialect.

Madeline Beaulieu, a 91-year-old elder of the Dettah community.

Did You Find the Sense of Balance You Set out to Find?

I spoke with a Chief of the Dene people and during our chat of nearly two hours we came to an agreement that it was important to focus on the young generation and teach them that we all need to rely on each other for balance. If we all step on each other to get somewhere there will be nobody to help once you make it to the top. In a society that feeds off of celebrity and commercialism we just hope that we can spark enough of the youths minds as to what really is cool – everyone feeling like they’re part of something, working towards a world where everyone feels equally loved and important. The Free Collective is just a label that represents these values but whether you like our work, or not, these are the simple core values that matter and we all can work towards a world with a little more love and compassion.

Speaking A Lost Language Trailer from The Free Collective on Vimeo.

The Free Collective event promotion poster.

Gibbons Whistler

Gibbons has been celebrating with people since 1979. We operate venues, run festivals, brew beer, talk travel and throw parties.