010 Camping, Land Sharing and Digital Philosophizing - Alyssa Ravasio

 At left:  Hipcamp  campsite  Cozy Cool Treehouse, KY . Photo by Jane Cavagnero ( via Hipcamp on Facebook )

At left: Hipcamp campsite Cozy Cool Treehouse, KY. Photo by Jane Cavagnero (via Hipcamp on Facebook)

I became obsessed with the internet. I think it’s the most powerful tool humans have ever created. And I’m really passionate about: How are we going to use it? Because I’m of the belief that most technologies are neutral. And therefore, the impact they’re going to have on our planet really depends on who learns to use them and what they use them for.
— Alyssa Ravasio

I couldn’t imagine a more perfect conversation to jumpstart uncivilizing in the New Year than this one with Alyssa Ravasio, the wunderkind camping enthusiast and conservationist who founded Hipcamp. Alyssa created the online platform in 2013, just three years out of UCLA, and in that short time has not only transformed the antiquated camping researching/booking system of yore; she has inspired millions of Millenials and Gen Zers to put down their phones and head outdoors. (It is no coincidence that more than 1 million new households have started camping each year since 2014, the year after Hipcamp was founded.) If you’ve yet to utilize the site, picture Airbnb-meets-camping: In addition to being the most comprehensive guide to public camping across the United States, Hipcamp has opened up the experience of camping on private land, called "land sharing." This revolutionary concept-turned-movement allows private landowners to earn income from renting their land for camping; campers get to pitch their tent (or glamp) on a farm, ranch, vineyard, pristine land preserve, and more. 

Alyssa has always been guided by her deep love of the natural world, but I was fascinated to hear her perspective as a "digital philosopher." Whereas outdoorsy types are often wary of our time's proliferation of digital technologies (ahem), Alyssa sees the internet as a powerful force for nature -- an obsession that began with the creation of her own Digital Democracy major at UCLA. We cover a lot of ground here, from the story of Hipcamp's founding to its ultimate mission as perhaps the most scalable model for land conservation on the planet. Not to disappoint, there are plenty of amazing camping tips in here, too! Whether you're a first-time camper, a seasoned outdoorsperson, want to learn what it's like to be a Hipcamp host or, like me, have made a New Year's resolution to get out and camp more this year, you'll want to check out this episode!   

Here's what we talk about:

  • Where Alyssa likes to camp in Los Angeles
  • Alyssa’s gear: What the founder of Hipcamp brings on a camping trip
  • Her childhood in the outdoors
  • Harnessing the power of the internet for nature
  • The frustrating camping trip that led Alyssa to start Hipcamp
  • What the heck is a digital philosopher?
  • Marshall McLuhan: “The medium is the message”
  • How Alyssa personally balances time in the natural world with the demands of 21st-century life
  • Who’s using Hipcamp and how it bridges political, generational, urban/rural and demographic divides
  • Land sharing
  • Alleviating fears about “the stranger in the woods”
  • Alyssa’s vision for Hipcamp: What’s next
  • Alyssa’s tips for new campers, time-starved campers, and her plans for the New Year

Ready to get out there and camp or share your breathtaking land with campers? Check out the Hipcamp website, and follow Hipcamp on InstagramFacebook and Twitter. Alyssa is @alyraz on Instagram and Twitter (although admittedly she doesn't post all that often). 

If you enjoyed this show, subscribe on iTunes so you don’t miss the next one (and don’t forget to leave a rating and review). The theme music is by Paul Damian Hogan. Want to chime in on this episode or have an idea for a future show? Connect with me via my Instagram page, I’d love to hear your thoughts!