Behind the scenes: One With Nature – more than just an environmental collective

If you were to ask anyone around Cal Poly’s campus if they supported making environmental changes to improve our wonderful community in San Luis Obispo, I’m sure almost everyone would answer with an undeniable, “yes!” However, how many of these people would actually do something about it on their own?

Well, Cory Jones and Colton Haynes are two Cal Poly grads who did just that.

While at Cal Poly, Jones and Haynes created an environmental collective called One With Nature with a basic premise to make some small changes in the way San Luis Obispo impacts the local environment. What happened, though, was much larger.

After unanimously deciding focus our project on One With Nature, my team – which included Sierra Newell, Elise Goetzl and Kaylee Brunke – set out to  to uncover the story behind the stunning photography and videography that makes up their website and social media. I sent out initial contact emails and we were able to set up an interview with founders Cory and Colton a few days later.

In preparation for our big interview, we each did ample research to figure out as much as we could before meeting with the OWN founders. We learned about their help with implementing the plastic straw and styrofoam cup ban in San Luis Obispo, as well as their work with Zero Waste Club on Cal Poly’s campus. However, even with doing as much online research as we did, we were pleasantly surprised to find out more of the behind-the-scenes information they shared with us at the interview.

Because of Jones’ connections with The Land Conservancy,  he was able to grant us access to enter the Pismo Preserve, which will not be open to the public until spring of 2019. We all piled into a car and began climbing up one of the trails until we found the perfect interview location. As we began setting up our cameras, Haynes and other OWN member, Doug Swarts, began to realize we were a bit amateur when it came to knowing about our equipment. Luckily, the two decided to take over and set up our cameras with the ideal settings and composition, leaving us with two perfect shots for our interview.During the interview, we learned that the two founders had actually attended the same elementary, middle and high school together in San Luis Obispo county but didn’t really know each other until they connected in college through mutual friends. It was through this connection that they realized they were both extremely passionate about making changes to protect the local environment – and that is how OWN was born.

Pismo Preserve

“We just shared a belief that the more you go outside the more connected you are with nature,” Jones said. “At that point your goals and values are going to align with wanting to protect it.”

Further, we learned the reason they were taking the necessary steps to become an official non-profit organization was to be able to raise funds for upcoming projects, which is something they couldn’t do before.  

After over an hour of conversation with the three OWN guys, we all set off to finish our tasks for the project. Newell began writing the article, Brunke started editing footage and Goetzl set off to brainstorm how to connect everything in an interactive form.

Newell decided to focus her article on their unique level of friendship behind the OWN collective. “After interviewing the One With Nature guys a few times, it was apparent how strong their bond is,” Newell said. “They are business partners that accomplished a lot, but at their core are a group of goofy best friends.  It was important to me to convey their personalities and relationships in the article because that is the driving force behind their success!”

Brunke faced other challenges as she realized she wanted to visually convey all of their impressive work, but her footage didn’t quite do it justice. The OWN group offered to send over some of their clips to help portray their organization in the best way possible. “It was amazing to be able to use some impressive footage from the guys at One With Nature because they are really into videography,” Brunke said. “Their footage helped supplement the image of the organization that I wanted to convey through my piece – even though it was a challenge when it came to editing!”

After putting together all of the pieces, it was clear we had successfully uncovered the uniqueness behind One With Nature and would now help raise awareness for the brand that is so dedicated to improving the environment in our little college town of San Luis Obispo.

“My favorite part about this project was getting the chance to interact with the team behind One With Nature and getting to know the founders and understanding their passion that drove the creation of the company,” Goetzl said.