Pop Quiz: What do the Athabasca Oil Sands, the Peruvian Amazon, the lush forests of Rwanda and the raw nature of Newfoundland all have in common?

Answer: Each has provided B&R with a unique opportunity for both exploration and education.

B&R's Destinations at Risk program was the brainchild of Tom Abraham and George Butterfield.

B&R’s Destinations at Risk program was the brainchild of Tom Abraham and George Butterfield.

Under the guidance of B&R co-founder George Butterfield and Trip Designer Tom Abraham, B&R launched the Destinations at Risk (DAR) program in 2008, veering slightly from its traditional model in order to focus on educational travel experiences that highlighted species, cultures or habitats at risk.

Though a new venture for B&R, these trips were in keeping with the things we value most about travel: immersion, education and a broadened perspective on our planet.

“I just think there are a lot of travellers out there who, like me, are increasingly interested in learning more about the world around them—about really connecting with it and educating themselves so that they can actually effect change,” George Butterfield said at the time.

As it turns out, George was right. (Spend enough time with George and you’ll realize this tends to happen.) Trips to Canada’s Athabasca Oil Sands and Peru’s Amazon rainforest succeeded in expanding travellers’ horizons, but it wasn’t long before we realized that the Destinations at Risk program had two notable limitations: the words “at risk.”

Places on the Verge

The inaugural Places on the Verge trip explored the lush forests of Rwanda—and its inhabitants.

By expanding the program’s criteria to include any region facing environmental or cultural change, if not necessarily risks, we could bring people face to face with the complex challenges facing cultures across the globe. The Places on the Verge program was born.

The inaugural Places on the Verge trip to Rwanda in 2011 brought travellers into the heart of a country that’s made incredible strides since its virtual implosion in 1994. A place with tremendous natural beauty and resources, Rwanda is also home to a young and ambitious population with a steady eye on a promising future, and the trip provided travellers with an immersive introduction to a people both resilient and resurgent.

“We have said several times to ourselves that even though we’ve been to a lot of different places in the world, I think it was maybe our best trip,” B&R traveller Joan Gilroy said of the experience.

This year we’re thrilled to add a new trip to our Places on the Verge roster. There are few places in the world today better suited to a trip that explores environmental and cultural change than Newfoundland. From tiny Fogo Island, where a veritable cultural revolution is growing out of the island’s Shorefast Foundation, to the Rising Tide Theatre in Trinity, the Rock is rapidly gaining a reputation for its keen arts scene and a meaningful approach to preserving a traditional way of life.

About the Author

Dave Bowden

After wandering through the worlds of magazine and newspaper publishing,Slow Road editor Dave Bowden traded ink on his fingers for stamps on his passport when he stumbled upon Butterfield & Robinson.

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