Out Your Backdoor

Indie Outdoor Lore 'n' More

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What is OYB? --An HQ for Indie Outdoor Education

August 22, 2012

OYB fans the indie outdoor flame. How? ... 2000+ articles on bikes, boats, skis & much more -- showing from diverse angles how the active indie world interconnects. Also, OYB is a catalog of hard-to-find media & gear -- keeping a bunch of good old books alive across a wide range of indie cultures. Your purchases keep us working on the mission. Indie businesses can easily afford to advertise here, to a wider-than-usual range of readers (usually general advertising is very expensive). All for one and one for all!

So, who's in charge? Why, me, Jeff Potter -- I herd the cats here. OYB has been celebrating thrifty, indie culture since 1990. Hey, that's 20+ years! And, yeah, it's my Day Job.

UPDATE: Pardon our dust! You might notice the "placeholder" Products. You might also find the old version of the website when you Google. These are signs that this new OYB 2.0 website is 95% finished! New functionality, ahoy!

This ol' website was pretty edgy back in 1999 when it got its first big makeover. But it hasn't changed much since. It first hit the web in 1994 -- people weren't sure the web was even viable then -- but OYB was in with both feet. Free color, access, no postage, searchability! Our Forums were also among the first and had hundreds of members, until niche-specializing siphoned 'em away.

In 1990 I started OYB when I saw that how-to, high-tech, big-bux and specialization/segregation were dominating nearly all the outdoor/culture media. The world as I knew it just didn't appear. And the way I learned to approach the outdoors -- integrating the whole scope -- with the help of a bunch of wonderful books and friends/mentors with general skills -- just wasn't shown anymore. So I'm doing what I can to re-add that kind of small-world, holistic voice to the scene. ...With your help, it's a cinch!

In 1990 the zine scene hadn't even boomed. What a "share and share alike" global ride up to the mid-90's that was! Truly, it was the Web on cheap paper (with wild artwork).

Nowadays, I also resell and promote a bunch of classic old outdoor books. Sure, if you're patient you can find most of them in used bookstores. But I don't think any other shop out there actively keeps them ALIVE like OYB does. I single them out and pump them up, as if they were still in print. These are books that uplifted me and helped me see new light in the world. So I have to share them and try to pay it forward. If you haven't read them, they're new to you! I see young, searching people out there WHO DON'T HAVE SUCH GUIDES or anything doing similar uplift for them. So I gotta do what I can.

For instance, I think I resell more George Herter books and catalogs than anyone. Ol' George had the right "I'm my own police" indie pirate spirit.

And, heck, there's novels, music, movies and philosophy, too! OYB is like a Barne & Noble for Indie Roots! It's a Foxfire for moderns. A Prairie Home Companion for active folk. A Patagonia catalog for backyard folk. A sustainable, affordable keeper of the Whole Earth flame.

A big reason why I do the OYB-branded bike luggage is as a marketing thing. Some folks ask me to leave off the OYB logo patch or they say it's too big. The patch is actually the whole reason why I offer luggage. Reading isn't just for readers. I want to put a *literary* brand out into everyday culture. Heck, I want to sponsor a bike race team with free OYB jersies! These days I doubt that the literary world is where you want to go to find readers -- users of bike luggage are more likely to catch the spark of fresh art than the alienated niche of literary novel readers. Much less philosophy buffs. I publish a line of philosophy books -- they're meant for bike luggage users. (Hemingway caught on biggest thru the homey pages of "Outdoor Life," not the rarified "New Yorker.") When you buy OYB luggage, sure you're getting something cool and rare, but you're mostly supporting OYB as a whole. (Heck, there isn't a subscription anymore, is there.)

Is any other book/gear-store like OYB? Does any other outdoor media website have such multi-topic connectivity? Of course, it's not SUCH a big deal. OYB is obviously a very limited, amateurish effort: it's just one guy. But with your support (and your reports, tips and stories!) I can keep it up.

Yeah, I can't cover everything, but I do cover a pretty wide range. (Anyway, it's more an attitude thing than about the specifics.) What's more, I'm always game to have other folks pitch in and contribute to expand OYB's diversity. This isn't about me! I started OYB as a pen-pal kind of place for kindred spirits to share reports about what it's like in their neck of the woods -- who else will understand them? Sure, I tend to have a Michigan emphasis, but my topics can usually apply anywhere -- in spirit, for sure!

OYB is for all ages, all types, all genders. The message is: you can do it! You can afford it! As you press forward just keep an eye on your roots and include your friends and family and it'll stay alive for you.

I suppose plenty of folks don't need outside support to make their breakthroughs and to keep the spark burning. Well, fine -- they can pitch in, if they like, or not. OYB is for team-players who have initiative and feel the need to share in this way. It's for those who want to, or need to, stand on shoulders to see as far as they can...and then pass the word along to folks beyond their own turf. We know you take care of your immediate pals. OYB thinks it's neat to connect these small systems into a bigger constellation.

I'd like to do more paper issues of OYB. At least half the OYB audience wants paper. I do what I can by still printing my Catazeen which gets included in every order box. I also promote a dozen or so other small indie outdoor mags, offering samples and Grab Bags.


Our recent tough economic times aren't new. It's the base condition for folk culture and social creativity -- it's just expanded out to the wider public. Such times can even be voluntary or barely noticed: the indie spirit often has to make do. What's more, doing without some consumer "necessities" can be freeing. What's hard for one is just-right for another. Sure, it's a disaster for many -- those who have to sell houses that they'd built a lot of eqiuty into, or who have to live on devalued pensions. But pensioners can double up if need be -- po' folk do it all the time. Simplicity encourages hands-on culture, integration and versatility, which makes us want to share and celebrate what we've found. But where? Here!

These efforts can sometimes be lonely. Also, it's easy to lose our bearings. So, OYB is a place to share what it's like for you, as well as to discover, and to support, so we can make it all work together.

Then, too, indie culture is a great good source of sustainable creative reality for anyone, no matter what their situation. Flush times, lean times, it works.

Remember, shopping here and visiting nifty OYB advertiser websites, is how you support this kind of DIY round-up, since there's no paid subscription.



I note that most items have their postage cost included in the listed price on the order button. So that's all you'll pay! (Non-US orders pay extra.)

OYB Customer Service / Shipping Policy is: I try to ship once a week and I try to promptly acknowledge all orders and inquiries. I'm pretty good at answering and giving special service for Special Needs questions. Feel free to knock again if you're wondering. Feel free to phone me at 517-347-1689 as well (sane hours for a family, please, EST). I'm a one-man show, doing book, media and product development plus fabrication and shipping. Whew! And sometimes we're out of town a few days. 1000+ satisfied customers since 1995 can't be wrong! : ) But sometimes they're a bit patient...

Returns... Also, if you're not satisfied with what you buy, feel free to return it promptly for a full item price refund (less my nominal postage to you, and you do pay return postage).


A huge #10 issue of the OYB paper zeen is available for $6 for those who love a thick wad of creative paper! See order buttons in the Magazine section of the menu-bar to the left. Here's the cover:


OYB was a zeen back in the 90's that despite its infrequency grew to become available on hundreds of newstands nationwide. I still publish a brief (but unique!) print "catazeen" that I include in with every order package.

Why bother? I personally NEED culture and encouragement that offers an integrated approach as opposed to segregated specialization. Sure, I can sometimes find doses of this "big picture" in a specialty mag, but really I want more of an overall view. I get it via keeping up with a wide variety of scenes. I figure that if I'm feeling this need that other people out there are as well. So I try to shape OYB to deliver that. It works as a digest of great indie mags in a variety of outdoor topics. And it offers its own holistic message. This kind of media doesn't exist elsewhere. So I make it myself!

I also see a need to give a voice to the quality indie biz that serves the indie action scene. Because no one else does this you know it's a dicey proposition. Everyday adventure biz has few resources. They've adapted to being segregated and cut off from the public. They can't afford to advertise widely and thus they get no general PR. So only their friends and specialty markets know about them. Celebrities and big corporations are allowed to hog the whole general scene.

A lot of indie biz does OK with this status quo. But there's such a big world out there. Indie deserves more. So I'm doing what I can to open it up. And I'm trying to make a living at it!

Most indie advocates go the non-profit route, and go for grants, etc.

I need to be more straightforward. I'm about direct action. I'm selling stuff just like a corporation is. I want to reach audiences and markets just like they do. Like any shop or magazine does. If OYB is of value to you, you'll let me know in a direct way. I grew up running a roadside fruitstand...

See, the modern dealio is that indie biz has easy market access, but only to specialties. Interestingly, general media is run like a specialty, too, with a tight focus, but one which only a very few can relate to or participate in: the world of celebrity, fantasy, corporate imagery and officialdom. OYB gives a small-world take on the big picture...in a way that's more real than your typical general interest media.

Basically, there's no other general media where a small, quality, indie biz can afford to show you their stuff. This is a big deal! OYB isn't copying anyone!

And it works! OYB is highly googleable. An indie biz can easily get buried in the searches. OYB has been around so long that an indie bike ad or story will come up right at the top. That's worth a lot to an indie biz.

What's more, the general scene is covered in a glib, snotty and knowing tone. I give it the personal touch, which is liberating despite it being largely homestyle. (I do include a lot of other voices and scenes than my own, of course.)

But that's not all, folks. For those who honestly don't like, need or want such a big picture as OYB, I've spun off several specialty areas into niche sites. So you can have your cake and eat it, too, with OYB. Really. OYB is both general and specific. Check it out... There's AllBike for the whole range of indy bike culture. HooknBullet for the indie view of outdoor foodsport (?). And UpNorth for the indie take on (non metro area) Michigan culture.

OYB is breaking the rules, coloring outside the lines. I dare to say that everyday indie culture IS general. I say that bikes, canoes, and XC skis are more general than Brad, Angelina, CSI, politics, talking heads, or stadium events.

I know, you figure that if you're a cyclist and want to learn about boats for some weird reason, you'll just google it. But it's not that easy. You'd go from one chunk o' stuff to another. OYB sorts it out for you. Also, there are cool things you don't know about that relate to what you're doing already. I bump into that a lot...and pass it on to you.

I'll push your buttons, too---I'm not just catering to whims. We all need pushing.

We're talking standards here. I don't always go along with "more is better" even in my favorite topical areas, and that might rub folks wrong. OYB presents things that work together---for integrity, sustainability, authenticity. With small-world local-spirit the whole year 'round.

Some folks have expressed confusion at my use of the term "DIY" because I sell pre-made stuff and because there are no how-to articles. Well, I do provide tons of tips and leads. But no one DIYs out of the blue. OYB is about the culture side that relates to the *why* of DIY and its roots.

It's been said that "OYB is a Prairie Home Companion for the True Doer." (Outdoor guru Bob Woodward said that.) Also that it's a cross between Outside and Utne Reader. (Wow, and just one guy does it!)

It's about what I call Modern Folkways. Have you heard of those? No? Well, check em out.

"Folk" is what people do to thrive as they get by. Folk appropriate anything they like as they go. Folk used to be defined as illiterate. Not any more, baby! It can be high-tech and it can look like and use some aspects of a consumer culture, but it's different. Dig in!

I know that I'm just one guy. I can't cover everything. But I try to cover the gamut, a range of things that lots of people do. And I know I can't find this kind of info anywhere else. And it's what I like to read and find out about. So I do what I can to give a hook-up opportunity to people who are a bit like me. I can give you a good lead, a start. It's not the end-all. Also, people send me lots of these scoops. You all out there are my eyes'n'ears. I don't make this stuff up. I'm just the clearinghouse. Talk amongst yourselves! --That's what the OYB Forums and Comments are for!

Of course, it is some nerve. I mean, who do I think I am? Small-shop independent biz is given specialty media on a platter. It adds up to millions of $ and millions of people. Sizeable markets! ...Even if they are cut into pieces. Well, I'm not satisfied with crumbs. I'm going for Outside *AND* Prairie Home Companion. Not to replace them, of course, but to supplement them, and BLEND them, to give another view. I can only do it with your help. It has to work for you. If it doesn't, I'm happy to change. If we little guys can get together and work on this big picture stuff, a win is a cinch.

Ads are important at OYB. I consider them part of the editorial. I want to do all I can to help small-world local-spirit indie biz survive in this world. Here you'll see shops that make bikes, boats, skis, music, food, wine, beer, books, bows, knives that stand out, that are neighborly, where you get to know the owner. (Corporate is fine for some things---their exposure is assured, obviously. It's the little guys who do the best, most innovative work who are neglected.)

General interest media isn't locked in place to one way of doing things! It's bigger than it thinks it is! Well, we'll find out...

General culture is actually kept alive by indie biz, not by big biz. Big biz is blind. Sure, it's needed for steel and electricity, but it CANNOT lead. It can only serve. (And I suggest that the professionalization of recreation along with the credentialism of academia are all part of big biz.) OYB is about sharing and hooking-up. Businesses in OYB are raising their hands together. So that more than just their niches and neighbors can find out about them. They have a lot to offer. Sure, they're not all the same, but this isn't politics where we all have to be on the same page. It's unity in diversity. With OYB you know who has your back.

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