Episode 179: Women’s Outdoor Summit

Listen and learn from leaders in the outdoor industry in this special highlight episode of the virtual Women’s Outdoor Summit. In celebration of Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day and created by Teresa Baker, this event focused on inclusivity, accessibility, sustainability, entrepreneurship, and outdoor career advice. Hear from inspiring and thought-provoking speakers like Dr. Carolyn Finney, Intersectional Environmentalist, CEO panels, and more.

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

Featured in this episode: Teresa Baker, Melanie Cox, Sarah Crockett, Jaylyn Gough, Deb Haaland, Sierra Domaille, Karla Amador, Alison Desir, Michelle Wardian, Natali Zollinger, Jenny Bruso, Dania Rivas, Syren Nagakyrie, Anaheed Saatchi, Kareemah Batts, Patricia Cameron, Leah Thomas, Sabs Katz, Diandra Marizet, Kristy Drutman, & Dr. Carolyn Finney.

Hosted & Produced by Gale Straub

A Production of Ravel Media

Sponsored by Backcountry

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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:

I’m Gale Straub and you’re listening to a special episode of She Explores highlighting the recent Virtual Women’s Outdoor Summit.

Teresa Baker:

I live in debt to those who came before me and an obligation to those who will come after.

Karla Amador:

When we have a baby, we have this vision, and then as we’re growing, we need to let go. We need to let that baby run and to actually empower our team to step in and to help us.

Sierra Domaille:

Yes, sometimes you trip and you have to like brush the gravel out of your palms, but at least you’re moving forward.

Sarah Crockett:

The opportunity to just kind of pause and listen, pause and engage, take full advantage of an open mind and what that can generate as far as learnings and empathy and apply to action in the future, I think has reinforced for me personally, how valuable it is to make sure that you dedicate time to learning.

Gale Straub – Narration:

Before I share more highlights, let’s talk about the first Women’s Outdoor Summit. It took place in summer of 2017 at the Presidio, a beautiful park in San Francisco. There were close to 200 attendees and the 2-day event was the brainchild of Teresa Baker.

Teresa Baker:

People have asked why I came up with this event back in 2017, I had a lot of women reach out to me to ask for help. They were concerned with matters of sexual harassment within their workplace and the national park service itself was dealing with matters of sexual harassment. So when the fire chief that you went before Congress to testify on sexual harassment in the national park service, it was at that time that I said to myself, just because I don’t know what to do doesn’t mean I get to do nothing. So I thought I am going to bring a bunch of women together who are smarter than me, who have these answers. And as a collective, we can come up with some answers to help those who are struggling in the outdoor industry.

Gale Straub – Narration:

Teresa she/her is the founder of In Solidarity Project and creator of the Outdoor CEO diversity pledge. She’s an incredible connector and I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say she has more good ideas than anyone else I know. At that inaugural summit, there were workshops throughout the first day, and then we all camped out, toasting marshmallows and getting to know each other around the campfire. It was really special and I created an episode of She Explores covering my takeaways. So when Teresa reached out to my team at Ravel Media, as well as the team at JAM Collective to help create a virtual summit to bring us together during this time and to celebrate Women’s history month, we all jumped on board to help make it happen. We knew there was no way to replicate an in-person event, but our hope was to curate an abbreviated one to help serve the community.

Gale Straub – Narration:

Our first step as a team was to create a survey so we could learn what was on the minds of women and other folks who experience gender discrimination in the outdoors. 300 of you responded and there was an overwhelming interest in conversation around inclusivity, accessibility, and sustainability. So we set out to find speakers and workshop leaders to speak to these topics in 8 activations over 3 days. We also wanted to make the event as accessible as possible, so we used a streaming platform instead of zoom so people can watch the videos at anytime on Youtube. We hired ASL interpreters. And we did our best to consider racial, gender, body size, and ability diversity in our speakers and panelists when we sent out our invites. It was a truly lovely way to come together as a community in this way — and I’m excited to share some excerpts with you today. That said, we see lots of real opportunities to do better in the future – be it at a virtual event or an in-person one. The most obvious example we want to call out is in the lack of trans women represented as speakers or panelists at the 8 sessions held for the summit. The Women’s Outdoor Summit was created to serve women, as well as anyone who experiences gender discrimation in work and life — but this is one way we fell short. Trans women are women, period, and their voices are integral to the past, present, and future of the outdoor community.

Gale Straub – Narration:

Let’s jump in to the virtual women’s outdoor summit.

Sarah Crockett:

All right, good evening, everyone. And welcome to the virtual women’s outdoor summit. My name is Sarah Crockett and my pronouns are she her and hers. And I am the chief marketing officer at back country, as well as your host for the evening. As we kick off this highly anticipated conference.

Gale Straub – Narration:

Each day, Jaylyn Gough (she/her), founder of Native Women’s Wilderness, opened up the summit with a land acknowledgement. I’ll play an excerpt for you now. As you listen, consider whose land you’re on and what you might do to take your acknowledgment a step further.

Jaylyn Gough:

Yeah, a [inaudible] my name is Jalyn [inaudible] is my Navajo name, which means warrior woman who wanders the mountain. Yeah.

Gale Straub – Narration:

As you listen, consider whose land you’re on and what you might do to take your acknowledgement a step further.

Jaylyn Gough:

I feel really honored and privileged. I am from the Dineh tribe, which is a, what were you called? Navajo and dinette Bikeyah, which is Navajo, which is our, our land. I love doing the land acknowledgements because not only are we acknowledging the land and the original peoples, we’re acknowledging the beauty of it, right? And we’re acknowledging the history, the tribes, the communities, and whatnot, but also we’re acknowledging that they are stolen lands. And I am in Boulder, Colorado right now. And so I am on the stolen land of the Arapaho youth. Cheyenne Shoney land talking about these issues is pretty traumatic for most native people. And so by doing a land acknowledgement, it’s honoring our people, but it’s also acknowledging the trauma and the pain that has come across with the stolen lands. And so one of the things that I really encourage people to do when they’re talking about, or they’re doing a land acknowledgement is so many of our tribal names have been renamed to colonize names.

Jaylyn Gough:

So the Navajo people have, you know, the Dineh we call ourselves, the people has been renamed to the Navajo people. And so it’s an extra step, but it’s beautiful. And it’s amazing if you can find the original name of the tribe that you are honoring, or that you are acknowledging of the stolen land, because I feel like that gives a deep connection more to the land and the people, right? Like we’re not settling for the colonizer name that we’re actually honoring completely the tribes or the nations, the Confederate nations, the first nations, the indigenous people of South and North America. Like this is something that is sacred and special.

Gale Straub – Narration:

Jaylin also helped introduce a special message from Deb Haaland, who was recently appointed Secretary of the Interior and is the first native woman in this position.

Jaylyn Gough:

I look up to Deb so much, uh, met her a couple of times and her voice is extremely powerful for our women and our two spirits and our little girls. We have something to look forward to, right? We have someone who looks like us and represents our love and our connection to the land and the waters. I really love all of this beauty that surrounds that woman. So I’m honored to bring her forward. And I can’t wait to hear what she has to say.

Deb Haaland:

Hello everyone. And thank you so much for having me. I’m Deb Haaland and Congresswoman for New Mexico’s first congressional district and a proud member of Laguna Pueblo. I’m grateful to share a few words at this year’s virtual women’s outdoor summit. I’m hopeful that there are many more to come. Women are powerful. We raise babies, run companies, lead scientific discoveries, run for Congress and even rise to the highest levels of government. But we also face sexism discrimination in many facets of life. I’ve experienced this in many places throughout my life. And I can assure you that the halls of Congress are no exception. One of these places of intimidation and discrimination should not and cannot be is the outdoors. I don’t need to convince you of the importance of the natural world in our lives. And I don’t need to convince you that women have a unique relationship with the natural world.

Deb Haaland:

You know, this and live it every day in your work as environmentalists and conservationists, who support people from marginalized communities in outdoor spaces in Congress, I’ve worked to make the outdoors more accessible to all communities through my work as vice chair of the house, natural resources committee and vice chair of the subcommittee on national parks for us and public lands. The in solidarity project jam collective and rebel media are building more equitable access by creating this event and working toward gender equality for individuals of all gender identities and races in the outdoor industry. Thank you to the women here who choose to advocate for others no matter where they live, play, and explore the collaboration encouraged today will allow us to confront the climate crisis and prioritize healing for our planet and ensure all people can reap the benefits of the outdoors. I feel so grateful to know that you all are leading with the dedication to the earth and future generations. Thank you for having me and enjoy this. One of a kind virtual conference. Be fierce.

Gale Straub – Narration:

The summit was made possible by Backcountry, with additional support from Merrell, Patagonia, Outdoor Research, Arcteryx and Smartwool. All additional proceeds went towards The Cairn Project, a nonprofit that helps girls and women across the US gain access to the outdoors. I had the opportunity to chat with both Melanie Cox (she/her) and Sarah Crockett (she/her), Backcountry’s CEO and CMO, after the summit. Sarah shared why Backcountry was so keen to be involved.

Sarah Crockett:

Oh my gosh, the first time we heard about it, I was just so excited that something like that was being put on, especially, you know, with all the challenges that come with doing it virtually, I know it was not an easy feat to establish get all of the different keynotes in place. So we want it to support Teresa. We wanted to support the initiative because bringing all of these amazing people together in one forum, we just know can produce such benefit. And that benefit took the form of listening and engaging and learning and building new relationships and being able to be part of something like that is just incredible.

Gale Straub – Narration:

Melanie added to this by emphasizing the importance of gender diversity in leadership positions.

Melanie Cox:

Well, I don’t think one gender owns the outdoor space. The outdoors is for all of us and we are all equal in the outdoors. So if you only have one voice in the room, you are missing a lot. And you know, it’s unfortunate. That was an industry that sort of historically has had one voice in the room, particularly when you understand that women still make 80% of the purchasing decisions within a household, but more importantly, women participate in the outdoors. So, you know, super important that we’re, that we’re understanding her needs. And, you know, we’re, we’re speaking her language

Gale Straub – Narration:

Chatting with both Melanie and Sarah about their own careers, underlying the need for summits like this each in unique ways, let’s start with Melanie.

Gale Straub:

So when you were growing up, did you have any visions for like what you would be when, when you were an adult?

Melanie Cox:

You know, I think probably not. I think most of us in, at that point in time thought that we would go to college for our Mrs degree. And when that failed, we sort of were forced to get jobs. I got super lucky and that I got my first job in the fashion industry and I had been very passionate about fashion and even done a high school, three week program with the fashion director at Saks fifth Avenue. So I ended up going to work in the industry that I loved. And I think when you do that, you’re not really working.

Gale Straub:

Hmm. And your aspirations shift then, and maybe your expectations for yourself shifted over time.

Melanie Cox:

I would say they shifted organically. Like when I started in the fashion industry, I started in this, on the sales floor, moved into management, meaning, uh, department management in a, in a department store. And then, you know, my big dream was to be a buyer because buyers got to travel to New York and I thought that would be super cool. And so when I, I became a buyer actually became the youngest buyer at the department store and I just loved it. But, you know, I saw it and my boss was doing, and I’m a super competitive person. So I was like, wow, maybe I want to do that. And then there was always a boss ahead of me and I always wanted their job until I got into the CEO’s chair.

Gale Straub:

It’s wild to think that within, within your lifetime, the expectations and what’s possible for a woman like you has shifted so much,

Melanie Cox:

It is, it’s so encouraging. I think it’s important that we don’t lose sight of the idea that tremendous progress has been made while understanding that, you know, there’s still an opportunity for more progress to be made

Gale Straub:

Melanie’s words on the progress that has been made and the progress that’s yet to come underlines the need for some it’s like these and the need to come together to ensure that all people, regardless of gender, race or ability level can see themselves in leadership positions, in outdoor companies, Sarah’s dreams for herself as a young girl, also echo the importance of role models. As it’s often said, you can’t be what you can’t see.

Sarah Crockett:

I don’t know. I mean, I think it depends on the stage. Honestly. I think at one point I wanted to be a Marine biologist and Definitely had a lot of things that I was exploring in my youth. However, my mom was always a working mom and was a senior executive within the healthcare industry. And so I definitely had a model of that growing up. My parents were divorced when I was about six years old. So we lived with her and I certainly think that I was influenced by seeing, you know, my, my every day, my normal was having a working mom who was an executive. And so I think that model enabled me to think and see myself in that potentially in my future. I think we are ready to go.

Gale Straub – Narration:

We don’t have time to cover all the sessions from the summit, but I’d be remiss not to touch on the two CEO panels Teresa Baker moderated. She invited 16 CEOs and leaders of companies and nonprofits across the outdoor industry for two separate panels. Having the opportunity to listen and learn from these leaders acted as a form of mentorship.

Teresa Baker:

What advice do you have for women and people of color who are pursuing C suite careers, women, and communities of color who have historically been underrepresented in the outdoor industry, go for it. Thank you.

Gale Straub:

This is Natalie Zollinger she/her, founder of RVR 2 RVR.

Natalie Zollinger:

Well, I was thinking about this one and like, I struggle with two things, one imposter syndrome where I feel like who am I to be a voice or a leader in my industry. And also the FOMO of like, everyone’s doing it better. And so I continue to jump on all these other ships that aren’t really me. And so then I think the advice I would give is just continue to be, you continue to follow your passions, dominate in your space. I heard this the other day with like the more niche you get, like the more you can focus, like the greater your world opens up and the more opportunities come your way. And I’ve really been focusing on this, that this year, and I’ve noticed a lot more opportunity. So it’s simple, but powerful.

Teresa Baker:

Thanks.

Karla Amador:

I’ll chime in.

Gale Straub – Narration:

This is Karla Amador. She/her founder of 52 Hike Challenge.

Karla Amador:

The first thing is following your passion. Exactly like what I just heard, but actually stepping in. I think what I’m hearing is that we need to start building our own self-confidence, which has been integral to where I am today. Without that self-confidence I had to develop that though. I came from a place of not loving myself, not thinking

Karla Amador:

I was good enough. I developed that skill on my personal 52 hikes being on the trails. I realized I had everything within myself to be that light, to be that example. And then taking the step forward, no one gave it to me. I came from pretty much nothing. And so stepping in and just taking that step forward. And if you want to get into a role where you’re, you’re a C O you, you have to start somewhere. You know, we don’t get anywhere without action. And that’s something that I would love to, uh, instill today in, in the women hearing, this is taking the action. Even if you don’t know how you’re going to get there, if you have the vision, like focus on that vision, see yourself exactly where you want to be every single day and work tirelessly to get there. You need the way, because we need more women out there. We need more examples. And I’m, again, I’m just, I’m here today because I’ve taken this step and I’ve been able to have mentors in my life. And so find people who are going to support you, ask questions and learn from them.

Gale Straub – Narration:

Alison Desir (she/her), co-chair of the Running Industry Diversity Coalition and founder of Harlem Run jumped in next:

Alison Desir:

I want to echo that. I would say really like build your team. I think that speaking to what Michelle said that in so many ways, when you are in the, as a woman of color, when you’re in a founder position or CEO position, there’s no one around like you, right? And so you have feelings of imposter syndrome. You have this feeling that you have to give up your authentic self to conform to whatever the culture is in the place. But for me, having a team of other like-minded women of color and women who are like-minded, but we’re still challenged me is such an important piece of moving in these spaces because they affirm my thoughts and feelings. They challenge me when I’m limiting myself, they remind me that I belong in these spaces. And also part of being in this role is helping uplift. Other people are looking at the resources you have and compiling them. And you can only do that when you have a team around you. So, you know, I’m where I am because of all of the mentors and other folks who have supported me and continue to support me. So I think as you think about getting into the C-suite or founder position, who are you bringing with you, who’s going to be beside you on the journey,

Gale Straub – Narration:

Michelle Wardian (she/her) President at Outdoor Research shared her advice, too:

Michelle Wardian:

This was one of my favorite questions I’ve been waiting for this. Um, cause I want to be really specific with people. And I’ve had a lot of coaching, a lot of mentors, the last panel talked about your own, your own board of advisors. So I won’t go over that, but I’ve gotten some really strong advice to define what your super power is today. After this go home and write down, these are the four things that I’m really good at and practice that so that you run into anybody in this industry. You say I’m a global strategy expert. I’m a supply chain expert. I’m an organizational design expert. I’m a customer centric leader. You have that down and be ready to say it and build your confidence about why. So that that’s super important that you ready to explain to people. The other thing is attend seminars that fill your gaps.

Michelle Wardian:

I’ve always been super insecure that most CEOs who are women come from finance, I come from communications. I do not have a finance degree. So I’ve taken classes that are in finance and they might be three days or five days. Something that you feel rounds you out and gives you confidence. I’ll never be a CFO, but at least I can read a balance sheet. Now, the other important thing I’ve learned in the last five years is that no leader operates by themselves. They have six or seven people on their team who do things really well. And as you build that organization, you’ve got to have them around and then it’s fine to say, I don’t know, and, and reach out to someone else. So, um, so those would be my checkpoints,

Gale Straub:

Jaylyn Gough, founder of Native Women’s Wilderness added to this:

Jaylyn Gough:

At that point where you feel comfortable in making mistakes because we’re not, we’re not all perfect. And I can’t tell you how many mistakes I’ve made, but I’ve also had to really learn through that because I sh you know, again, all of the self doubt and all of that stuff comes behind the mistake of like, Oh, see, yeah, you can’t do this. Or, and really trying to change the narrative of that, of like, we all make mistakes and we got to pick ourselves up and we got to keep going forward. There’s something in that that we’re going to learn from. And I think that’s kind of really helped me get through NWW and get through the race communities I work through. I also say, trust your gut. You know, like I’m a huge person of where I, I, like, I know when something good and solid and you go for it.

Jaylyn Gough:

But I know if like, if I even have that feeling of like, Ooh, this doesn’t feel good. I need to kind of sit with that in marinade in it and figure out what doesn’t feel good of this situation and why. And then go forward with my actions of what I’m going to do. And whatnot. Also keep fighting. You know, you’re going to have people who are going to try to bring you down all the time, right? They’re going to try to bring down your organization. They’re going to try to bring down your name. You know, jealousy is a pretty evil thing and it just keeps biting. Like, it’s hard, it’s rough out there, but you got this. And we have a saying for, um, the native communities of like, you know, your ancestors are with you. Like, they’re going to give you the strength and power that you need to get here. You are here because of them. And they’re going to give you all that. You need to keep moving forward. And if You are just really struggling, go to the land and water and gain what you need to get from that. Right. Cause they’re right there with you. And Yeah, I think all of this has really kind of helped me in my moments of crisis.

Gale Straub – Narration:

Motherhood came up in both panels. Melanie Cox, CEO of Backcountry who sat on the first panel, brought it up again in our conversation after the summit:

Melanie Cox:

I think, you know, at the summit. And I know one of the things that has been a challenge for me, especially in the early to mid part of my career, was around being a mom and being an executive or being a working mom. And, you know, I think over time, you know, the idea that women would be working has become more and more solidified because you know, the financial makeup of the families, um, more often than not requires it. The other piece of the equation is really about taking responsibility for yourself and for your own financial livelihood. Um, and if you think about 50% of marriages ending in divorce, in a partnerships breaking up, or if you consider that life changes can happen, whether it be, you know, disability or illness or whatever, I think we have to take an active role in our own financial health.

Melanie Cox:

And we have to let go of the guilt around not being there for every moment. You know, of our child’s lives. I love my kids. I’ve loved them more than anything in this life. But at some point I realized that, you know, what I was role modeling for them was really important. And that was that I am a much happier and better mom. When I have a wife where I am failing, you know, challenged and accomplished I’m role modeling for my daughters, that they can have a career and a family and be good at both I’m role modeling for my son, that women can succeed and achieve in anything that they do. And that’s a good thing. And that a strong partnership is what’s going to make a successful family.

Gale Straub – Narration:

We’ll hear more from the virtual women’s outdoor summit. After this.

Gale Straub – Narration:

We’re back. The opening keynote was from the team at Intersectional Environmentalist and set the tone for the rest of the summit to listen and learn through an intersectional lens. At the end, they answered questions from the audience. I appreciated their response to my own question about eco-feminism

Leah Thomas:

Eco-feminism I feel like in large part helped create what is now intersectional environmental ism. And eco-feminism really focuses in on the, you know, the relationship between the way that women are treated in society and also the treatment of the earth and the first degradation, because there are a lot of similarities in terms of the way unfortunately, society has valued women and nature sort of in an extractive way that DD can go back and, you know, talk about a little bit more, but eco-feminism is very, a very beautiful philosophy that explorers that intersection, and really in so many ways has led to other movements like intersectional environmental ism. One thing to note in the past, even though there are so many incredible BIPOC women who have pioneered eco-feminism, unfortunately, sometimes like the ways that it’s taught it could be a little, you know, extractive or, um, sometimes promote cultural appropriation, not all the time and be not as inclusive of trans women as well, trans women are women.

Leah Thomas:

So they should be included in any type of feminism, but yeah, eco feminism is, is really, really awesome. And all that Deedee expand on that a little bit more.

Diandra Marizet:

Yeah, no, I thought that that was such a beautiful way to define it and yeah, I mean the study of eco-feminism and the presentation of it, again, just reiterating that it did lead to, you know, a lot of the things that we utilize today. So definitely love that. But when I started learning about eco-feminism again, I was in the fashion industry, so it was kind of where I started unpacking a lot of issues simultaneously. And one example of eco-feminism, if you’re thinking about environmental issues with regards to the fashion industry, just as an example, you might think about some of the ecological damage that would come along with a harmful supply chain system. So if garment worker communities are dying a ton of clothes with toxic chemicals that might have harsh implications that compromises their water sources, and if it compromises their water sources, then it’s going to make its way into compromising their soil sources.

Diandra Marizet:

And when we think about the way that people in, you know, various parts of the world, um, navigate different career paths or different livelihoods, usually the people when, when communities experience like really heavy environmental degradation, it’s usually women who were the least or the most disenfranchised, I guess you could say, um, when it comes to really making sure that they’re able to protect themselves as they’re experiencing ecological degradation. So you might understand maybe here in the U S where I’m currently based, um, where many of you might be currently based that we understand typically that there is pay disparity, and there’s a lot of disparities between men and women and careers here. So if you translate that to parts of the world where people need a tremendous amount of support for advocate for their local communities, understanding that it’s a similar dynamic, just in a different way that women don’t have what they need to be able to advocate for themselves, especially when the environment around them as eroding.

Diandra Marizet:

So just the study of that intersection really helps us in multiple industries, not just the fashion industry to really unpack the importance of understanding both environmental degradation and what it means to be a woman with environmental degrading around you.

Sabs Katz :

I just wanted to quickly add to that. Um, I definitely recommend looking into doctor on Donna Shiva, who is one of the leaders of eco-feminism. Um, and also when we talk about environmentalism in general, um, or when we study environmentalism and, you know, the history of environmentalism, so often a lot of the leaders, or you know, of the environmental movement historically have been white men like John Muir, um, Henry David, the row. And yet there are so many women who definitely do not get the credit that is deserved. And it just reflects that there is an extension, even though the environment is not inherently sexist, the way that we live and the way that, you know, oppressive systems really permeate so many different realms and aspects of life, a lot of women really don’t get the credit deserved when it comes to learning about environmental isms.

Gale Straub – Narration:

One of my biggest and most hopeful takeaways of this virtual summit was a true sense of community, those who attended all wanting to work together to achieve goals towards a common good. Jenny Bruso’s panel about “Working Towards a More Accessible Outdoor Industry” was a great example of this. Jenny she/her is the founder of Unlikely Hikers, and the panel was made up of 5 women and nonbinary panelists whose work in part focuses around increasing accessibility. Jenny kicked things off by sharing a few examples of a lack of access in the outdoors.

Jenny Bruso:

When talking about accessibility, I mean, we’re talking about so many different things. I don’t want to rattle off things that we’re all going to talk about any way, but like there’s accessibility in terms of how accessible a trail is to somebody who has movement needs or equipment, things like that. There are signage, things like that. There’s cost, you know, cost of gear, being able to actually get to the wild outdoor space. There’s just so many things, not being able to find the clothing that you need or gear cause it doesn’t fit your body in the everyday outdoor retailer that everybody’s getting their stuff from

Gale Straub:

Patricia Cameron, she/her, founder of Colorado Blackpackers, spoke to the ways her nonprofit breaks down barriers of cost:

Patricia Cameron:

For one, I’m really big into the idea of reparations. I’m speaking specifically about the black community, because that’s the community I’m coming from in this space. But I think it can be applied to many different communities, but in any case, I am huge into the idea of reparations. And that’s what we talk about. The economic portion of getting outdoors, especially in Colorado here, where we have OR you know, or twice a year, and we have VF Corp is here. And so much of the hub of the outdoors is in Colorado. There’s so many disparities and who’s able to access them. So it was black Packers. What we do is we take people out and just pay for it. About two or three weeks ago, we went to Arapahoe basin and we paid for about 27 Brown and black people to go skiing or snowboarding, whichever they chose. We paid for the gear.

Patricia Cameron:

We paid for the clothing we paid for the lift ticket. We paid for the half day lesson. And normally if this wasn’t COVID, we’d pay for the transportation, I just don’t want a big COVID bus with people going anywhere. But things like that are huge in order to get access the money part of it. And one of the statistics I like to use is that since the civil rights movement, the median wealth, every black family has gone down for about 70% and has gone up 14% for the median white family. And so when we talk about things like a living and surviving wage, because there’s a difference between like the ability to survive on money and the ability to live on money, how much money can you use for outdoor recreation? If you’re paying your bills, if you’re being your Garnaut, if you’re paying for your housing, you’re in your own food.

Patricia Cameron:

And so I think that the wealth gap contributes to the outdoor recreation, disparity issues and gaps. And so we just want to pay for people to go out there, including the transportation, which a lot of times people don’t realize that that can be tough. Do you have a car or the ability to get to that place? And even if you do have those things, can your transportation manage the mountain passes? It takes to get around Colorado. And if your car can manage the little mountain passes, do you feel confident and have enough experience in it? And that takes time and that takes money. So that’s kind of what black bag is doing. Basically just pay people to go out there. And I’m having all inclusive experiences,

Gale Straub – Narration:

Jenny asked panelist Syren Nagakyrie (they/them), founder of Disabled Hikers how the outdoor industry perpetuates inaccessibility.

Syren Nagakyrie:

Yeah. For example, I was having a conversation recently with another brand partner who was using terms like handicapped and their material. And I said, no, I will not participate in this if this term is continuing to be used. And that was just kind of the end of the conversation. Never heard anything back, never got anything back about that. So, yeah. Yeah. I feel like there’s definitely a lot of room for improvement within the outdoor industry, as an its approach to disability.

Jenny Bruso:

The fragility is strong, You know, with a bunch of people in these dominant positions. I I’ve experienced things like that too, where I have very simply just said, I would not work with the way something was said, or I needing something completely reframed, but not being like, you’re a jerk. Why are you even alive or anything horrible like that, just saying a very basic thing. And like, it’s like, boom conversation over, you know, whatever partnership might’ve been at play to better benefit my work. I’m just sharing this experience is over. I’m just sharing this experience because I, I know that it happens a lot and that creates scarcity and fear. And also maybe for some of us, we just kind of back out and are like, it’s cool. I’m just gonna not work within the outdoor industry. And that kind of sucks. Does anyone else want to add onto that? Anything that, any examples of how the outdoor industry is perpetuating the inaccessibility that we’re talking about?

Gale Straub – Narration:

Kareemah Batts, she/her, founder of Adaptive Climbing Group chimed in:

Kareemah Batts:

I can definitely say this is not my first or last summit that I’ve been invited to. And I messaged Syren when we were resharing promoting today. And they was like, I can’t believe it. I’m not the only person with a disability on the panel. I’m like, yeah, me too. I can’t believe this because nothing makes you feel other than when you’re on either one focused on advocacy and leadership or people of color. And you’re still the only one of you, there could be eight and there’ll be three black women. You’re a black woman. And there’ll be like, no people with disabilities whatsoever. And people with disabilities make up one fifth of the world’s population. In addition, if it was in person, a lot of times when I am going to these in-person things, they don’t have accommodations for people with disabilities, but yet they invite you to do the keynote.

Kareemah Batts:

I’m not going to call out particular summits because that would be wrong, but you’ve already heard from me. So if you’re listening, you already know if you going to ask someone to do a keynote address on a stage, everybody should be able to get on the stage. Shouldn’t be stairs when one of the keynote addresses is in a wheelchair, you know, things like that. So, you know, and then accessible is a general word as, uh, Donna said, right? It means something to everybody differently, right? But for people with disabilities and our culture, we literally put accessible and then a picture of a stick person in a wheelchair and we call it accessible. So as a broader culture, that’s an issue for me. You know, I have not always identified as a person with a disability. This is my 10th year as being a person with a disability. So I have, you know, like 20 years of being an able body person. So I see both perspectives, right? I think that’s what helps me be able to communicate these in an effective way most of the time. So that’s a big example of how brands and allies will invite into a space, but then not have any accommodations for me to be in the space so they can check a box.

Gale Straub – Narration:

I was also struck by what Dania Rivas (she/her), founder of Inclusively Outdoors, shared about the stages of becoming an advocate:

Dania Rivas:

Advocacy happens in phases. It’s not like you can, all of a sudden choose to call yourself an advocate. And in the phases that happens, the first phase of advocacy is when there is an awareness. And this is when you belong to a dominant group. And you’re unaware of the privileges and benefits that you have over the last dominant groups. And then you enter a phase of when you begin to build awareness of your dominant identity and how you benefit from privileges that come with that group identity, and then how you benefit from the systems that uphold, um, dominance in that group. And then you begin to pretty much enter, um, another phase where you become active in your awareness. And this is essentially when you become an ally and you support uplift, amplify the voices and bodies of those that belong to the less advantage subordinate groups.

Dania Rivas:

Um, and then finally, true advocacy is when you have changed your beliefs and you’re willing to challenge your biases on a daily basis. And when you are capable of using your voice to transform systems of oppression, um, and then willing to take unsolicited action to pretty much shift the behavior and beliefs of others. There are like a lot of signs that you have reached like a true level of advocacy, but I’ll just want them a few here because we’re running out of time. But when you’re a true advocate, you don’t care about the line light, right? You don’t care about the line of white. A lot of your work, um, happens privately and unexpectedly. Um, another thing is you, you’re not afraid of having difficult conversations. We’re challenged the beliefs and behaviors of other people. Um, but also mindful of how,

Dania Rivas:

How to do this in a way that, uh, games are meetings trust. So don’t shame or blame people because shading, others rarely causes them to closely examine their own behavior. Is that causes them to retreat deeper into their sense of moral superiority and dominance.

Gale Straub:

Jenny asked the last question of Anaheed [they/them], a writer for Melanin Base Camp and the co-founder of BelayAll:

Jenny Bruso:

How can we genuinely hold the outdoor industry accountable for the harm that’s been caused being caused? Do you have any thoughts on that? Is it even possible with such dominant institutions?

Anaheed Saatchi:

I mean the outdoors industry also isn’t a monolith. We all work in it. Yeah. And so I really it’s a hell Of a question. I really appreciate that a mentor told me, you know, there’s always people on the inside trying to change things. And so I’m trying to operate from a place of multiple truths. And the only times that I really feel in my own journey, really stuck and scared is when I allow myself to be isolated and fall into what I’m meant to believe about capitalism and scarcity, and that there isn’t enough money to go around, except that that’s not true. It’s all just being hoarded. And you know that my body is wrong or my gender is wrong or anything like that. It’s, it’s when I’m being isolated from community. And so the outdoors industry was born of whiteness, white supremacy, colonialism, capitalism, patriarchy, it’s rooted in bad, bad things. And so the th the ways to hold it accountable that I’ve chosen, that are a part of my personality, a part of my lived experience and the things that I’m being called to.

Anaheed Saatchi:

And those are really what I can speak to or naming it. I harness my privilege that way I speak English. So I can bridge that gap between myself and other English speakers with a North American accent, uh, and be taken seriously to a certain degree. I have a university degree. So I can also bridge that gap and write in a way that, you know, froze rhetoric at people, and then they can Google it or not. I’m able-bodied at any of anything that might separate me, uh, in terms of ability is invisible. And so advocating from a place of nuance and multiple truths being adaptive. And I don’t, I don’t want to punish the outdoors industry. And, you know, in the humblest way, I am learning from indigenous youth here on co-sale territories, that none of the answers are being invented in our generation. They’ve always been around. And so to think that we’re inventing the wheel right now about social justice, about equity, about how to be on the land and steward the land and preserve of the water is false.

Gale Straub – Narration:

Sarah Crockett’s takeaways of the summit echoed my thoughts after listening to Jenny’s panel.

Sarah Crockett:

I know I took a lot of different, um, learnings away from just hearing different perspectives and spending time listening and engaging. And I’ve got a lot of different virtual coffee sessions as a result of that. And I think every single moment offered something to model across the industry or as an individual. And unless you have a passion for things to stay exactly as they are and have always been, um, which I certainly don’t. And I know many of the, almost everybody there didn’t have that perspective, then why wouldn’t you want to be able to, to bring a forum like this together, to produce learnings and movement and momentum for positive change and growth.

Gale Straub – Narration:

As much as the event was about listening and learning from others, it was also about tapping into what makes you unique. And Kristy Drutman’s workshop on telling your own environmental story helped give us the tools to do so.

Kristy Drutman:

So this is going to be like the basis of you telling your own environmental story. The reason why I think this is really important is because we can’t even talk about what your environmental story is. If you don’t actually know, like what connects you to the natural environment, what connects you to the space around you? It’s important to just like, understand where that connection exists, because that’s going to look different for every person. Like not, everyone’s going to like the same activities outdoors, not everyone’s going to enjoy, you know, one form of nature or landscape or environment or biome compared to another person. So it’s really important to like honor your own experiences and your stories, no matter what it is, even if your favorite safe space was just a park in a very busy city, like that’s just as valid as going to the mountain somewhere on a really long backpacking trip. Like I think it’s at the core of what I want to get into today is that your environmental story is about you. It’s about your truth. And there’s no shame in that. So I just wanted for people to understand that the most important part of this storytelling is for you to feel confident in it and to feel empowered and to feel secure as your describing these things. And a big part of that is self-reflection of understanding where that connection exists.

Gale Straub – Narration:

The ending keynote was from Dr. Carolyn Finney, a self-described Storyteller, traveller, cultural interrogater, accidental environmentalist, as well as the author of Black Faces, White Spaces. It’s such a powerful speech, I recommend pulling up the full video on the Women’s Outdoor Summit youtube channel. But for now, I want to share her answer from a question in the audience about telling your own environmental story. First you’ll hear Miichelle Wardian, President at Outdoor Research, who moderated the keynote and asked Dr. Finney the audience question:

Michelle Wardian:

We had a workshop session yesterday about telling your own environmental story. What advice do you have for everyone listening to tap into their own? And how can we pay attention within our own stories to opportunities for destruction and redemption?

Dr. Carolyn Finney:

I love that question. Well, I teach, uh, I’m, uh, doing a part-time residency at Middlebury college in the Franklin environmental center. And I teach one class it’s a non-traditional class. And I always ask the students to write an environmental autobiography, their very first assignment. And I said, the easiest AUL ever get three to five pages, whatever you want to talk about, but it’s getting a sense of where you stand and your own bias and your own experience, not to devalue it or dismiss it. Just talk about it, your grandparents, that place you went, camping, whatever it is you want to say that farm. It doesn’t matter to talk about that story. And I do that, you know, in part is to always make sure that you understand where it is. You’re you’re you stand. So no matter how you come to this subject broadly defined, you’re clear, you know, that whole saying no thyself, like, you know, thyself, I’m not asking you to make an excuse for it, but I think bias can tip over sometimes into prejudice and racism.

Dr. Carolyn Finney:

If we don’t have a clear sense of understanding our own limitations. I didn’t tell my story today because I tell it all the time and I didn’t want to take up the time with it. But the reason I do isn’t simply to bring myself in the room, but to offer it as an invitation for everybody to bring themselves also into the room. And also because like Tony Morrison, I’m also, I’m also the audience, as well as the speaker. You know, I feel that for myself. I want to say I’m, I have to, since you’ve asked me that question, this is how, in terms of destruction and change the motivation for me to do this work. And I’ve always said, this is personal, it’s political, and it’s intimate the shift. It wasn’t simply a dissertation opportunity. Actually, it only became a dissertation opportunity because what was happening with my parents, where they cared for this land piece, this 12 acre state for 50 years, that wasn’t theirs and had to leave it, which meant that none of us, me and my brothers, we could never go home again to this pole place.

Dr. Carolyn Finney:

And there’s a longer story there. But while my parents were still living on that land, my father had given my mother a weeping cherry tree for their 40th wedding anniversary. It’s a beautiful tree. And when they had to leave, they couldn’t take that tree with them. But when they moved to Leesburg, Virginia, they got up, they bought another one and they planted it. They didn’t have all that land anymore. They live on half acre of land. Well, Mo many of you have, you’ve heard me talk before. I usually start off with that story to ground myself in a very particular way. This is the point of view. I come from asking questions around public lands and who was the public and who gets access. And when a conservation easement got placed on that estate, the conservation, the land trust, you know, sent a letter out to everybody in the neighborhood and let them know why there were pictures of the estate talked about where it sat on the watershed, the wildlife on the property, all the reasons it should be protected.

Dr. Carolyn Finney:

And at the end of the letter and thanked the new owner for his conservation mindedness. And he’d been on the land, I don’t know, three, five, six years at that time. But what surprised me when I looked at the letter was there was nothing mentioning. My parents who’d cared for that land for nearly 50 years and just that fast they got erased. So also part of my motivation was just like better ratio and all the other people in this country who’ve been erased as though we don’t exist that our labor, our love, you know, the relationships we have have no value. Um, and instead we are often assimilated outreach to expected to engage in a very particular way is that we don’t have any embodied knowledge of that history and our own past, and some of that past ain’t that long ago. So I’m South telling you all this, because one of the things that has happened this year and when you know your story and put it out there, I’m just saying magic is possible.

Dr. Carolyn Finney:

In 2019. In the before times, when we were still flying around, I was speaking at the Telluride film festival and there were like a thousand people in the audience and you’re a whole bunch of us speaking, but I had my story up on screen. And I was telling all of that. There were filmmakers and stuff in the audience, most who I’d never met this last summer, a woman named Irene Taylor who had won Emmy’s Oscar nominated. She’s this white woman who is a documentary film director reached out to me. We had a zoom call and she said, you know, I saw you. She goes, I’m doing this HBO documentary on trees. And I want to talk about each tree that I choose in a relationship to people. So there’s this kind of story. And I realized I have no black people up in here. And I said, well, you know, you could talk about African-Americans and lynching, but she says, ah, I’m not the person to do that.

Dr. Carolyn Finney:

And I said, and we’re really not just the bad things that happened to us. And so I told the story about the cherry blossom tree. My parents did give her an example about how you can think differently. She liked the story so much. She decided that she’s going to tell that story of my family on the estate. And so she we’ve sent her old movie videos and all there’s this, um, archive archivist is doing is digging into the background of the States into the 18 hundreds. We’re trying to just tell a fuller story of that land as well as my family, as, as well as the conversation around race. And very particularly African-Americans as though that wasn’t enough, the New York botanical gardens at another major institution, right. Reached out and said, we’d love to have you do a residency here. And I told him the story.

Dr. Carolyn Finney:

I don’t remember how I kept the cherry blossom tree. And they said, you know what? We’re the New York botanical gardens. I bet you, we could build a relationship with the land trust, get access to the estate, get a sampling of that cherry tree, bring it back to the New York botanical gardens and tell a story. And I got emotional when they told me, cause I was like, what is happening as if that would be incredible? Well, I want to roll ahead a little bit to last December, but the land trust also agreed. So we got the land trust on board, but the land trust went on the estate at the end of December. And I sent him a picture of where the tree is, dah, dah, dah. And they sent me back a picture. It all been landscaped. The tree was gone. Cause now there’s brand new owners who are two owners removed from the owners who knew my family and knew about the tree.

Dr. Carolyn Finney:

So they didn’t know about the tree. Right. And what it, the meaning it had. And for a few days, we were all devastated. And um, I hope I know my parents aren’t listening cause we haven’t, I haven’t told them yet. So I know they’re not listening to this. So, um, and then I kind of woke up going, wait a minute. This is the truer story of what happens in this country around land and environment and places story. This is a story we should be telling. I read Taylor took it and ran. She was like, yes, this is the story we should be telling. So now what we have is an award-winning documentary film maker that has access that she’s decided she’s not going to focus globally anymore on the story of trees and people. She’s going to focus on North America and tell just four stories because there’s a big stories to be told here.

Dr. Carolyn Finney:

One of them being what happened to my family in New York botanical gardens and the land trust were saying, okay, yeah, let’s see what we can do here. And as of late the owner, cause we’d been trying to reach out to the new owners for months has finally reached back and said, they’re open for conversation. So what I’m hoping for even beyond this is that not only to have access to the estate, but what would happen if she would let me replant a tree and everyone is accountable. So now the new owners, the land trust, the botanical gardens, the filmmaker, the black person, the family, and we’re working together because I’m not interested in shaming. Anybody I’m really, really not. And understanding things happen. And I was angry. Like, let me be clear. And this is the opportunity I’m interested in. How do we get everybody to say, okay, the owners have a power.

Dr. Carolyn Finney:

I don’t have, they own the land. They can say, yeah, the land trust has power. I don’t have, they can be responsible for protecting that on that property, along with everything else. Then you’re pretending to go gardens, tell stories of all types around fora. They have a power I don’t have and my family, we own the story. So that’s the power we do have. And what is, what’s the magic that comes together? So that’s the thing that what your stories might uncover. I could have never told you this. I could have never guessed it back in 2003, when this was happening to my parents, we had to leave the land. I had no idea, but I’ve understand stood from others, particularly black writers and others who said we are our own memory, keepers, poets like Nikki Finney and others who said, we have to tell our story. We can’t be waiting for other people to tell our stories. This is all also the plowing and planting. I believe Sojourner might’ve been pointing to and this we can do. And I don’t think we always have to do it alone.

Gale Straub – Narration:

I want to wrap up this highlight episode from the women’s outdoor summit with a call to action from Sarah Crockett.

Sarah Crockett:

Let’s just keep it going. I mean, we’re really powerful when we come together and I think we need to create more forums for that to happen. So I really respect and appreciate the fact that this was an idea that came to life and that the challenges of the pandemic didn’t get in the way, which I think if, if the pandemic can get in the way of us coming together, nothing. So I think we’re all responsible for keeping it going for keeping the momentum behind listening, learning, and engaging and hearing different voices. I’m a big fan of action. So we should all just feel responsible to keep it going.

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