(photos x sarah lee)
Alison Teal may be young, but she’s already working on leaving a lasting legacy. The modern day storyteller documents her journeys across the globe, sharing the tales of her local guides in a relatable and oft comical tone through Alison’s Adventures, her viral series. She believes that “travel heals the soul” and truly practices what she preaches. Armed with only a camera, her pink surfboard and her trusty made-from-recycled-goods bikini, the ambitious filmmaker aims to spread her knowledge on remote cultures, sustainability and the human ties that bring us all together.
Alison’s crazy cool mission grew out of her completely unique upbringing. Home schooled around the globe by adventure photographer dad David Blehert and acclaimed yogi mom Deborah Koehn, Alison got her first taste of adventure at just two months old when the family skiied the highest peak in southern Peru. Traipsing to the most inaccessible corners of the globe with her parents and connecting with the indigenous people allowed her to “become part of an ever-growing global family.” After graduating from the film school at the University of Southern California, she used her experiences to produce and direct the internationally recognized films Rita and Snaked! And that was just the beginning. Alison continued to excel at every dimension of film making, all leading up to the creation of her current pet project, Alison’s Adventures.
Alison’s Adventures, in her own words, is “dedicated to enlightening and educating the kid in everyone through entertainment that leads to action.” She believes that storytelling has long been the way of “passing on ancient wisdom” to the next generation, and this has inspired her throughout her entire life. Alison says that growing up, she didn’t know she “wasn’t normal.” After experiencing some undergrad normalcy she decided she wanted to share what she had seen, to share the “magic and mysteries of the cultures of the world” and encourage people to take action. And she leaves that action up to the viewer, a create-your-own adventure of sorts; talk to a stranger, buy a ticket to
Morocco, or maybe just get out of the city and back to nature for the weekend.
Just like her parents, Alison is a pioneer in her own right. When she began Alison’s Adventures, she was literally a one woman team; writing, directing, producing, hosting and editing her journeys. Her team has since grown, but not by much. Sara Lee and Tamara Rosenfeld have joined, bringing up the count to three. Sara and Tamara are volunteers, just like everyone else who has helped with her videos across the globe. She has “traveled the world on the kindness and hospitality of a global family,” which truly highlights the universal appeal of her mission. She says that her pink surfboard opens doors, and this rings true; she has been able to connect with people across the world and has even filmed some unprecedented experiences. In one instance, she was accepted into a lost village in the Andes that had thrown stones at every other film crew that had tried to record their teachings. Pretty amazing, right?
Alison’s legacy won’t just be her videos and stories. She is also deeply committed to sustainability and ecological consciousness. This is another trait passed down from her parents. Way before ‘green living’ became a trendy buzzword, her father David was charting unexplored territory in reducing his family’s carbon footprint. The family’s home base is a “Robinson Crusoe style grass shack” on the Big Island of Hawaii that they call their ‘Hale Kai’ (Ocean House). The house is completely powered off a solar grid her dad constructed, fueling all the kitchen appliances, washer and dryer, lights and power tools.
David also converted his huge F350 truck to run off of recycled vegetable oil. The Hale Kai has an organic garden full of vegetables and tropical fruits, which the family naturally composts with their available waste. Alison prefers to teach rather than preach, and encourages people to “dig deeper and ask questions.” Her parents raised her to see everything as part of the same story and really consider “what it’s coming from and where’s it going.”
Her surfboards are made from sustainable soy products, and her signature pink board is actually “green to the core.” She’s also an ambassador for Sustainable Surfs and helped develop their Waste to Waves program, which showcases the process of packaging waste being transformed into surfboards. The Odina Eco bikinis she lives in are an “epic combination of everything a girl could want in a bikini and they are made from 100% recycled materials.”
We have no doubt that Alison will leave a lasting mark on the world. With her passion for storytelling and education, her ability to connect people worldwide through her videos and her commitment to environmentalism, Alison is truly inspirational. It’s amazing how grounded she’s managed to remain, another legacy passed down from her parents. She told me her dad’s saying “stay wood,” or in other words, stay true to yourself. As Alison’s works continue to gain recognition, she says she is most interested in using the power that comes with fame to benefit her global family by remaining a voice of reason.
I’ll leave you with some advice Alison told me she would have liked to give her younger self: “Magic really does exist. Have fun and don’t care what people think of you. Respect your elders. Eat dark chocolate — you’ll thank yourself later. And love is all there is. Love is not just what you say, it’s something you pass on.”
For more information on Alison’s Adventures, her past work, the causes she supports and the planet friendly brands she loves, check out alisonsadventures.com. Her videos are truly incredible, and you’ve got nothing to lose but a few minutes of your time.