Recharging with Purpose — Navigating Through, Episode 3

Navigating Through: Episode 3 

Recharging with Purpose

Running a nonprofit, doing advocacy work, challenging the dominant narratives of what it means to recreate outside—it all takes a lot of energy. This episode highlights filmmaker Faith Briggs and photographer & GRLSWIRL co-founder Monroe Alvarez, two women who recharge in the outdoors and on the road, and digs into the ways these excursions help them stay simultaneously invigorated in their work and close to their purpose.

About the series: 

This special She Explores miniseries is made in collaboration with Subaru.

The last year has been marked by loss and longing, but it hasn’t dampened our sense of adventure or our tendency to dream: of far off places, of time in movement with loved ones. And throughout, there’s been comfort in knowing a place we feel most like ourselves: behind the wheel, on the way to our favorite local trailheads, swim spots, and mountainsides.

With our eyes in the rear view as much as they are looking at the road ahead, through this four part series we’ll tell stories about finding adventure locally, reconnecting with those close to us, and taking the side roads that bring us back to what drives us: connection, purpose, and creativity.

Banner image of Faith Briggs by Amiri Rose @amiri_rose

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Find the episode below, on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you stream podcasts.

Featured in this episode:  Faith Briggs & Monroe Alvarez

Hosted by Gale Straub

A production of Ravel Media

Resources

All Four Episodes of Navigating Through Are Available Now Wherever You Listen to She Explores

Music by Josh Woodward

Podcast Art by Hailey Hirst


Featured in this episode:

Creative producer, Faith Briggs

Photographer Monroe Alvarez

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TRANSCRIPT

Note: This transcript was lightly edited and created using a transcription service. As such it may contain spelling errors.

Gale Straub – Narration:

Navigating Through is a special four-part She Explores mini-series made in partnership with Subaru. With our eyes in the rear view as much as they are looking at the road ahead, through this four part series we’ll tell stories about finding adventure locally, reconnecting with those close to us, and taking the side roads that bring us back to what drives us: connection, purpose, and creativity. I’m Gale Straub, your guide for Navigating Through. This is episode three: Recharging with Purpose.

Faith Briggs:

I am a documentary filmmaker. I’m one of the partners in creatives at camp four collective. And I work primarily as a director and creative producer. I’m really enjoying right now doing some more executive producing work and just trying to share what I know at this point in my career with other filmmakers who are trying to jump in and get projects out into the world.

Gale Straub – Narration:

This is Faith E. Briggs. You might be familiar with her work in front of and behind the camera, but “This Land” is a great example. In the short film, Faith ran 150 miles through 3 National Monuments to help tell a story about land access through a journey of inclusion and empowerment.

Faith Briggs:

I like to say story sharer rather than storyteller. When I remember, I think it’s a good reminder for me that now I don’t set out to tell anyone’s story. I always hope it’s a co-creation. We can like get into it together. And my focus is on representation. I, I look at that more on his story is being told, how has it being told? Where is it being told? And by whom? And I’m always just hoping that the kinds of films that I’m engaged in and the kind of stories that I get to be a part of are helping to widen the narrative and kind of challenge the mainstream American imagination about who exists and how folks exist in the world.

Gale Straub – Narration:

Though it’s not her primary focus, Faith also is an educator using her platform at times to share resources on diversity, equity and inclusion in the outdoors. During 2020, she had created a tool called the everyday equity habit tracker to help empower people who want to address racism, but don’t know where to start. When we work hard, go through a paradigm shift like the, or spend time uplifting and sharing other stories. It’s also important to find rest and to take care of ourselves so that we continue to show up instead of burning out, it’s especially vital for Black Indigenous and People of Color, as well as other communities who have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. I asked Faith how she’s been able to carve out time for herself personally and professionally over this last year.

Faith Briggs:

Yeah. This year was a challenge. I mean, for so many people at so many levels, I think I did struggle to carve out time for myself, just based on a combination of uncertainty, increased anxiety, grief, and guilt, even running, which is often one of my happy places to escape to was really challenging and difficult for me to even engage in. So walking was a big one for me, gardening was very helpful, just like get myself out. And I was really thankful that I had a little bit of green space. I’m not typically much of a green thumb, but even just putting my hands into some dirt every day or so was really helpful. Yeah. I’m not, I’m not sure. I honestly did a great job at carving out space for myself this past year. I certainly tried to maintain more of a meditation practice, which at some points in my life I’m able to really engage in.

Faith Briggs:

And then sometimes I just totally forget about my freelancer as of 2021, but I’ve always worked part-time at nonprofits up until now, so I can kind of always be working. And so it is challenging to say like, Hey, you’re, you’re overly focused on productivity right now. And you can take a chill. I think it took me about five, six months into the COVID-19 pandemic to realize that my kind of just baseline productivity. Wasn’t what I was used to it being. And that I needed to be okay with that. And I needed to adjust and not like beat myself up for how much I perceived myself to not be getting done

Gale Straub – Narration:

When you’re driven and engaged by your work, it’s especially important to be gentle with yourself when it’s harder to show up like you want to. For Faith, whose work has often centered around macro adventures and travel, staying close to home in Portland, OR grounded her in a way she didn’t anticipate.

Faith Briggs:

Based on the nature of my work. Normally I was gone a lot, like I’ve lived in Portland for four and a half years, but before the pandemic, I mean, it was kind of a joke. Like I’d be gone at least a week out of each month. And I was often gone for two weeks and back. And so I didn’t really get to feel rooted here. And I think living in Portland this year, especially when so much of the country’s attention was on the city, I really was challenged to think about what rootedness looks like in the place where I live and what it means to invest in that and be a part of that. I think I really came to value my relationship with Portland, Oregon, and the state of Oregon a lot this year. That’s like a main difference was like, I was not here very much before. And like a lot of people that changed and there’s been huge silver linings in that and being around more and really getting to like invest in my friends circles in a better way than I had been.

Gale Straub – Narration:

I asked faith if there were particular day trips that came to mind that offered reinvigoration, not just towards her work, but for her day-to-day life.

Faith Briggs:

I think just by virtue of who I am and what I’m constantly thinking about, you know, conversations around equity and inclusion in the outdoors are pretty much always a part of like, I can’t, I can’t think like a day goes by where that’s not a part of the conversation that I’m having. And so it’s nice. Like one of my good friends here in Portland as, um, Tracy Nguyen-Chung who started Brown Folks Fishing, and I’m one of the Brown folks fishing ambassadors. And we went fishing on the Nahalem this year and then also on the grand Ron in Eastern Oregon. And I think just getting to know, or again, through all of these different activities is really great. And then, you know, hiking in the summer, um, there are so many trails in and around Mount Hood National Forest and in that area.

Gale Straub – Narration:

Faith spends a lot of time in and around the water.

Faith Briggs:

And, and surfing. Like I, I started just started surfing in 2020 and through surfing, particularly in the summer, there was a group of, um, black surfers in Portland that were getting together and kind of just trying to like spend time together. Um, particularly like in the midst of the Black Lives Matter uprising, then it just increased a lot of pressure on a lot of people it’d be constantly on. And just being able to have some of those, if any spaces to turn off, help really important this year, particularly I’m like not very good at it, which I kind of like, like I, like, I like being a beginner because I think I put a lot of pressure on myself, pretty much in everything that I do. So being so far outside of a competitive scale is always really nice for me. Cause it feels like one of the only places I can really relax. So I don’t know what that says about me, but I have to work hard, uh, to relax sometimes, which I don’t think I really knew about myself beforehand. I think, yeah. I think I’m kind of learning to accept those things about myself.

Gale Straub – Narration:

We are all learning things about ourselves and learning how to take care of our bodies and our minds along the way.

Gale Straub:

How do you stay motivated and inspired in your work with GRLSWIRL?

Monroe Alvarez:

You know, just with any job you get kind of, you know, you tend to forget sometimes not why you’re doing things, but just the bigger picture and like I have to get reminders sometimes. And honestly, the thing that keeps me motivated is just seeing other people in the community, talking to us about GRLSWIRL and seeing how we inspire them.

Gale Straub – Narration:

This is Monroe Alvarez, a photographer by trade and a co-founder of GRLSWIRL, a grassroots skate community focused on uniting women through skateboarding, empowering them to break gender boundaries and inspiring them to start a revolution by harnessing inclusivity and friendship. GRLSWIRL is a for-profit company and sells boards and apparel and other merchandise, but it’s purpose driven and includes a mentorship program, as well as community action through cleanups and fundraising. Monroe was the last of nine co-founders to join the skate crew that went on to build GRLSWIRL. She told me that she met them through a work client who brought the first eight members to a photo shoot, and that Lucy the CEO was the one who first got Monroe on a skateboard.

Monroe Alvarez:

When I came to the shoot, I met Lucy and a few of the other girls and they were just so cool and so inviting and really special. And I hadn’t skateboarded before that moment. So Lucy kind of threw me on a board and started teaching me and I fell in love with it. And I started hitting her up being like, Hey, let’s shoot again. Let’s shoot again. Cause you know, a lot of the time, like as a photographer, you like to just shoot your own project. So I was just really enamored by them and I was like, Oh, I just want to like keep hanging out with them. I remember telling her like, Hey, this could be way more than like what it is. It could be a business. And at that time, it wasn’t in the mindset of the girls to turn it into a business. But I think after that, we all started thinking like, yeah, it couldn’t be

Gale Straub – Narration:

Part of the reason Monroe felt enamored by the GRLSWIRL team was that they didn’t subscribe to the idea that you need to be a “certain type of person” to be a skateboarder or to join––which GRLSWIRL has also built into their mission.

Monroe Alvarez:

I grew up a huge tomboy and I always surrounded myself with male energy. And I was really captivated by this open community of women who didn’t care anything about your past or like what you looked like. And you know, I grew up modeling too. So I was definitely in a world of like judgment. I felt, I always felt like girls were very judgy and that was just like the world I had created not created, but I was surrounded in so like meeting Lucy and these girls and, you know, everyone was so open and no judgment at all. It was very inviting and very cool. And that was something that I wanted other women to feel and be a part of as well. So that was definitely been grazed reason why I love loved joining the group and also currently love being a part of it because you know, everyone is one that sounds really free. Yeah.

Gale Straub – Narration:

Freedom was also hopping on a skateboard, a theme that’s come up again and again, through this series is the power of movement and Monroe describes it well.

Monroe Alvarez:

It’s a really magical feeling. It’s um, it’s just so nice to cruise around. And once you get in that groove, because our boards allow us to carve, which means like you can, you know, you’re riding your board as if you were like on a surf board. So if you have like a nice little decline Hill, not anything crazy, just enough to where your board can cruise down on its own, you get enough momentum to where you could really carve for like a while. And it just feels so good. It feels very freeing. Like, I don’t know, like here’s like a bird or something and you’re just like flying down. It it’s really magical. I missed, I haven’t stepped on a skateboard in a couple of months because I’m pregnant. I’m just trying to be like extra safe. But it’s something that I crave and miss a lot. It’s it’s a special feeling for sure.

Gale Straub:

When he said that about feeling like a bird, it makes me imagine you with other women in GRLSWIRL as a flock, you know, heading down together.

Monroe Alvarez:

Yeah, totally! It can look like that for sure. Maybe not as like uniformed as like most bird flocks are, but we’d be more like a storm of birds. It’s a cool thing to see. Especially when we used to do our group skates, you’d see like 50 to a hundred girls just like flying down the Venice boardwalk, all skating together. And that’s like a really cool thing to witness, just like a hundred women on skateboards.

Gale Straub:

Wow. That’s a statement.

Gale Straub – Narration:

As you just heard, Monroe is currently pregnant right now and holding off on skating at the moment. So I asked her what she’s doing to care for herself through the pandemic work and pregnancy.

Monroe Alvarez:

I have made a vow to myself to like walk at least like two to four miles a day before COVID I was really active with like yoga or hiking or being on my bicycle. And now since COVID, I’ve just become like, I’ve actually become like less active, which I know a lot of people have become more active during COVID, but I was just kind of taking a break, but now being pregnant, I’m having to like do a lot my own practices. So like I have a dog which is really convenient. So it gives me an excuse to like take my dog out on long walks. So I’m just trying to like, be really gentle with my body. So walking is a perfect way to like stay active and I’ll do like 20 minute yoga flows. I’ll do little hikes here and there, but not so much my hips or my hips or feeling the weight of my stomach. For sure. So like hikes are a little bit hard for me. Yeah. Anything gentle, just stretching and walking pretty much.

Gale Straub:

I feel like we could all use a reminder to be gentle with our bodies.

Monroe Alvarez:

I know. Right. Seriously. Like I used to like, not think about that at all and just be like, yeah, let me do the power Vinyasa flow. And then I’d like kind of injure myself after and I’m like, but I feel so strong, but I’m also like destroying my body at the same time. Yeah. It’s been pregnancy definitely teaches you a lot of things to slow down and to be gentle for sure.

Gale Straub:

Do you have any advice for any people out there listening who want to have a, a project like girls swirl or a business like girls world that is giving back and is mission focused, any advice in terms of harnessing that energy to create something good?

Monroe Alvarez:

I always find power in numbers. So it’s really nice to have someone hold you accountable. So if you want to start something that helps people or, you know, has a mission behind it, I think it really helps to have someone do it with you, someone that you trust and feels as passionate as you, and then just reach out to local mission-based, maybe charities or boys and girls clubs and see how you can help and really use social media to your advantage, to, you know, the more you do something, the more people see it. And the more it’s in people’s memories. So more you’re going out and doing things. People are going to want to start being involved with you and are inspired by you though, of what you’re doing and want to help as well. Because if you just do something once or twice, like people aren’t going to remember that. So you just have to keep doing and keep going at it and don’t stop if you build it, they will come. I just love that quote. So you just got to go out and do it.

Gale Straub – Narration:

I love that cumulative effect. It’s good to reiterate that because it can feel, you know, when you first get started, that it takes a while to build that momentum and just showing up for you and for the people that you’re hoping to serve makes a huge difference in the long run.

Monroe Alvarez:

Yeah. And honestly, like I know it’s really important to get like mass eyes on things that you’re doing to get more support, but at the end of the day, if you’re really, mission-focused the only thing that matters is you going out and doing these things and you helping those people because the power of one person is enough to Change one or two or multiple lives. So if that’s what you really are wanting to do is change people’s lives. You only need yourself. Of course it hopes once you get more people on board, but at the end of the day, as long as you’re doing it, that’s all that really matters.

Gale Straub – Narration:

These words of advice take me back to Faith, as I also asked her if she had any advice or words of encouragement for those hoping to redefine what outdoor media looks like.

Faith Briggs:

You know, I think my primary advice in general, not just in media is to start where you are. And I actually spent some time this summer working on a habit tracker and tool kit that I made because I felt like people were having this feeling of like, okay, I know black lives matter now, what do I do? And there’s so many opportunities that are already directly related to what we’re already doing. I sometimes have people reaching out to me asking how they can get involved in more D I work. And I kind of have to challenge that a little bit and be like, I’m a documentary filmmaker. I’m not a DEI consultant. I, that’s not actually the work that I do. And I, I think it’s interesting because talking about equity and access is always a part of my, just like how I go about my work.

Faith Briggs:

Like that’s not what I do. Like it’s only one that hired me to do DEI consulting for their team or something. I’d be like, here’s all these great people that do that. But I don’t know. I think that there are ways whether it’s looking at where you’re going to be shooting and you know, which tribes have affiliation relationships to the place you’re going to be shooting. And how are there ways where you can extend the opportunities, you know, diversifying your film crew or, um, you know, working with brands and adding some donation, whether in money or unkind to something that’s related. I love the work that Jordan Marie Daniels and doing around, running on native lands and challenging race associations and folks like that to think about the land beneath our feet. And I think that is the component that can be brought into all media work.

Faith Briggs:

It doesn’t have to be, let me go find a story about a Black person. It can be like who’s in my crew. Who’s bringing that story together. And what’s the actual story. I guess my main, my two points of advice then are start where you are and don’t be so scared that you do nothing. I think people are so afraid of making a mistake or stumbling being canceled or something like that on social media that they do nothing when they could do a little bit and move the needle a little bit. And even if someone’s mad and loud and your comments on one thing, I think very often there’s someone that is impacted or, um, got to see themselves for the first time, maybe, um, involved in something that they are excited about or, you know, someone else that’s like, girl, you really messed up that one, huh. But you know, still has your back and will like buy you a latte and help you get through it.

Gale Straub – Narration:

As we continue to navigate finding ways to take care of ourselves, build purpose driven organizations, challenge the mainstream narrative, and grow Faith emphasized the importance of that growth including acknowledging grief, and giving ourselves space to move through it. To wrap up this episode, I’ll let Faith share in her own words.

Faith Briggs:

I do feel like there was a lot of that in 2020, and a lot of people felt guilty about acknowledging grief if it wasn’t necessarily like the loss of a loved one. Um, but there’s so many other kinds of grief that we were all experiencing, you know, as individuals and as a collective that I think maybe we didn’t know how to value as much or give the weight to that they deserve. I definitely, I don’t know. I guess I’m still trying to let people know that it’s okay. That we’re all still grieving. You know, what feels like the loss of a year for many folks and, and like how to move forward from there.

Gale Straub – Narration:

As much as the series is about navigating through it’s about moving forward. And even if you’re feeling lost or off track right now, you’re on your way. And in the meantime, nature and movement is here for you as you swing off onto a side road and take the long way home.

This was Episode 3 of Navigating Through, a four-part She Explores miniseries made in partnership with Subaru. All four parts are available in your feed now.

Featured in this episode are Faith Briggs and Monroe Alvarez. Learn more about each interviewee via the show notes or on the landing page at She-Explores.com.

Each woman featured is an existing Subaru owner or had the opportunity to test drive a Subaru vehicle, exploring outdoor adventures close to home.

Music in this series is by Josh Woodward.

This episode was hosted and produced by me, Gale Straub, with editing by Julie Hotz. Navigating Through is a She Explores mini-series and a production of Ravel Media.

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