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Unstrapped: GBP and the Search For Sababaland

Photo: Ben Birk.

In Hebrew, the word “sababa” means “cool” or “fun.” To the Gremlinz, a Tahoe-based crew of snowboarders, Sababa is a way of life, and has taken on a meaning like “hakuna matata, no worries.” The Gremlinz have bought property in the Tahoe area, and are beginning to dig. Their plan: to build an eco-friendly, 100% sustainable compound where they can live off the grid, continue making snowboard films, and live the Sababa lifestyle. They call it Sababaland.

People familiar with the Gremlinz or Green Bandit Productions know that they make snowboard videos with hip-hop, 40 oz. bottles, weed smoke, guns, Lucas Magoon, Tahoe backcountry booters, Boreal park laps, and (almost) guaranteed boobs. To most parents, they would not be ideal babysitters. Laws are broken on camera in almost every video they make. Their mascot is a demonic gremlin from a cheesy 80’s horror movie. It may come as a surprise that they’re also some of the most active and vocal environmental advocates in the snowboard community. While their reputation for illicit activities and quality snowboarding gains the most attention, their interest in an eco-friendly lifestyle is often overlooked. We sat down with Tyler Lynch, one of the masterminds behind Sababaland, to hash out the details.

How did the idea for sababaland come about?
One of the big things that sparked the idea was when I first saw the documentary “Garbage Warrior”. It’s about an architect who started to build houses out of recycled materials and made them so you could live self-sustainably off of the house. All of the houses were set up for permaculture. I just thought it made sense and would be a perfect way for our group to take care of ourselves and be able to keep doin’ what we’re doin’, instead of everybody breaking off and getting jobs. It basically seemed like the answer. I started pitching the idea to everyone and it started growing from there for the past three years.

We’ve grown the company, GBP, up from a group of friends filming a video every year to selling t-shirts and hoodies. Now we’re doing snowboards and branching off and dealing with sponsors. We’re building it up and developing it so that eventually we* could all be able to build this land, say, off of funds from the company we started, with the support of companies that support the whole movement. Hopefully when we get to that point the land and the houses we build will make it so that we don’t need money from a regular job.

[The GBP crew has many members, including names like Nico Cioffi, Cam Pierce and Lucas Magoon. It isn’t definite who will permanently reside at Sababaland, but the whole family will take part in the construction and festivities. See the GBP website for a full list of the crew.]

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A recent shot on instagram of the boys constructing one of their first Earth Ships at Sababaland.
Photo: Courtesy Tyler Lynch [@Sababa_Life]

Why are you so motivated to do this?
Everyone’s always trying to figure out ways to make it all work and try to live the most ideal life. We’ve known that we want to stick together as a group because we saw how well it was working and how much we all appreciate being together. I saw this as a way to continue without having to all become businessmen running a company, just selling shit all over the world. We’ll still keep it rolling with movies and product, but the idea is that we won’t need a bunch of money and a huge company to live a good life.

What would that ideal lifestyle look like?
It would pretty much be living in one of these earthships. You can live off the house. Keep yourself warm without gas heating. You get your electricity from the sun and other types of power. And then I picture us just constantly working on the land, making tree forts and gardens everywhere, and then skate tracks and paths. I picture skate tracks out of dirt, similar to BMX tracks, almost like a slopestyle run for skateboards with big soft wheels. So the ideal life: live in your house, grow your plants for food, work on the house and energy supply, but also continue on the skate stuff, filming entertaining things, and trying to travel.

SababaLand 5/4/14 from GBP on Vimeo.

How did the property search go?
We were looking for property as close to Tahoe as we can but out away from any cities or anything. We found a spot about an hour and a half outside of Tahoe. We put down an offer and found out we got it. It’s pretty exciting. We found this spot that has a valley at the bottom with some lush trees everywhere that you can jump into. It kinda felt like back in Vermont. We’re trying to chip away at everything we can now and get more people focused and on board.

Why Tahoe? Why not think about moving back to Vermont?
I think about that all the time because I love Vermont. We have a lot of friends and resources back there, so it’s definitely tempting. But the weather out here is amazing. The mountains are nearby. We’ve all started to love it up here. The spot right now isn’t the biggest, but the plan is to get this going, figure out everything, see how it goes, work out the kinks. And in the future, ideally, we keep moving on, move to other countries. It definitely isn’t like get this set up and live there for life. It’s just to get out of this modern system of living that we’re all locked into as quick as we can.

We could continue with our movies but in a documentary style, and show the whole process of making the place. I picture doing skate events and festivals, like the Frendly Gathering, promoting the green lifestyle and progressing. I just want to jump into it quick so we can switch up the mentality and the priorities. This earthship idea makes sense right now, living off the land, so I want to get into it.

Have you seen the documentary about Skateopia?
Yeah. You know, the idea was so rad and so similar. They support it off their events, build the land, skate it, no rules. But it just seemed like there was so much disrespect and redneck bullshit about it. To me it just seemed like a disrespectful grungy feel, and maybe that’s why it didn’t work out. But to me, getting a community together to support something totally makes sense.

With these things I’m all about looking for that ideal future and looking up to the people that came before you that are doing it right. I think about Bob Burnquist who’s got the organic farm on his land. He definitely seems like he’s doing it right. And my sister’s big into gardening. She’s been a huge influence on getting me into that mindset, seeing how you can live off the land and grow food. And obviously everything going on around us, hearing about how many systems are failing and how bad the food and the water are. I look at green shit, all the different permaculture systems, and think this makes sense. I’m tyring to make it appealing to my friends, because I see them going in different directions. I’m trying to make it look so appealing that we can all get into it and make an impact.

So are you afraid of the IRS?
I try to tread as lightly as possible as far as government systems are concerned. My brother, Dylan (Lynch) has started to take on the business side of things with the company, paying taxes and everything. Fortunately things are small enough for us now where there hasn’t been anything to worry about, but we’re trying to get ready so that that doesn’t come back to get us. We try to keep everything at a steady pace so we don’t get any overhead, but also trying to grow as quickly as possible.

Are you trying to run away from something?
A big thing is that I don’t want to make it like that. I still want to show it, promote it and get people involved, but I definitely want to run away from the system that everyone’s so locked into of owning a house, bills, buying food from the grocery store, gas and cars. I want to tell people about it and push it. I think this is a good way of life for everyone.

Is it going to be an open community, where everyone can show up and be a part of it? There’s the potential that some people could see it in a different light.
Getting everyone’s mindset in a similar place is hard. I don’t want to try to force people to think the same, but that’s what’s come into play. Some people have an idea of it one way, this big open gathering, and that’s how I see it. We want to base the whole thing off of good vibes, people helping out the community. Like all good things you don’t have to worry, it will happen naturally. But then I see other people’s vision of how it will go down and it’s not necessarily that. I don’t want to push it too hard, but I want to see it happen naturally. I see it working that everyone will do their part.

I’m definitely trying to trust in the goodness and the power of good-hearted people. Everyone will be picking up on good vibes and helping each other out in the community. I have faith in attracting the people who are so down and believe in the idea so much that they’re willing to put in the work and get it going.

The Unstrapped web series explores the creative pursuits of snowboarders beyond snowboarding. We are a society of creative individuals expressing ourselves in myriad ways beyond just strapping in. Whether it’s making art, building a house, or something that just adds a different perspective to life, we all find our passions and add them to the collage.

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