Episode 193: WorldPride – Revisiting a Conversation w/ Elyse Rylander

Episode 193: WorldPride

Revisiting a Conversation with Elyse Rylander

Founder of OUT There Adventures & Creator of the LGBTQ Outdoor summit

Join us in our She Explores Podcast Facebook Group->

In honor of WorldPride, we’re resharing our 2018 conversation with Elyse Rylander. Elyse is the founder and executive director of OUT There Adventures, a nonprofit dedicated to empowering queer young people through their connection with the natural world. Elyse believes nature is a disruptive force for queer youth and hopes to positively foster their identities and love of the outdoors.

She’s doing so through her nonprofit, OUT There Adventures. By partnering with existing organizations like Outward Bound and Northwest Youth Corps, she’s reaching more queer kids and multiplying the potential impact of OUT There’s mission. It takes time, energy, and capital to build a nonprofit. Elyse shares the challenges and rewards of the last five years of work and her vision for years to come.

Elyse is also a Co-Creator of the LGBTQ Outdoor Summit and is using this opportunity to announce that there are now dates for the 4th summit! Mark your calendar for April 1 – 4, 2022 at the National Conservation Training Center in West Virginia.

Full Transcript available after the photos.

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

Featuring: Elyse Rylander, Founder and Executive Director of OUT There Adventures; Co-creator of the LGBTQ Outdoor Summit

Hosted & Produced by Gale Straub 

Links/Resources Mentioned in this Episode:

Sponsor Websites & Codes

Music is licensed through MusicBed.

Elyse & OUT There Adventures

Elyse by the water – her happy place

Elyse (far right) and kiddos out in the backcountry of Washington

Elyse and her partner Emily

Elyse OUT There 🙂

TRANSCRIPT

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

Gale Straub – Narration:

Hi everyone – it’s Gale. I’m pleased to share that this episode of She Explores is part of the World Pride Pod Stage, a place where you can listen to all time favorites like Radiolab and the Moth, and also discover new-to-you shows. Each day of World Pride Copenhagen Malmö, the World Pride Pod Stage is releasing a different podcast episode, but they all have one important thing in common: they feature a queer theme. This episode of She Explores featuring Elyse Rylander originally was aired in fall of 2018 and it’s an honor to include it as a part of World Pride. Elyse is the founder of OUT There Adventures, a nonprofit that empowers queer youth through time in nature. She’s also the co-founder of the LGBTQ Outdoor Summit – stay tuned for 2022 dates at the end of the episode.

Thanks for being here. On with the episode.

Gale Straub – Narration:

I’m Gale Straub and you’re listening to She Explores.

Elyse Rylander:

There is also, you know, just not a narrative for young folks that promotes going outside and participating in outdoor activities. We hear that time and time again, you know, there were a bunch of kiddos on this crew, sea kayaking, expedition that were like, I didn’t know, people did these things. I didn’t know that this was something that was possible for me. It really takes a special young person and then a special group of people to support them, to be able to participate in these activities at this stage in our culture.

Gale Straub – Narration:

This is Elyse Rylander, founder of Out There Adventures, a nonprofit adventure education organization dedicated to queer youth. Before we really get started, I’m about to share something I don’t normally share, the awkward first moments of a Skype interview. Elyse had answered with her video on, I opted for no video.

Elyse Rylander:

Can you hear me.

Gale Straub:

I can hear you. Um, I actually usually don’t do video for these calls, but yeah, I mean, I can show you what I look like right now, but.

Both:

*Laughter*

Gale Straub – Narration:

I asked how she was doing right as we hopped on.

Elyse Rylander:

I’m doing fine. It’s the end of our youth programming season. So just kind of transitioning and focusing on this summit and all that good stuff. Yeah. Oh

Gale Straub:

My gosh. I mean, I’m not, I don’t want to jump into the interview yet, but my first question for you is really just like how you’re juggling everything. Because from the outside, at least it looks like you have a lot going on.

Elyse Rylander:

Yeah.

Gale Straub – Narration:

Elyse does have a lot going on, but as it says on the Out There Adventures website, the goal is simple: to empower queer young people through their connection with the natural world. Elyse founded out there adventures, OTA for short, 5 years ago, and the nonprofit achieves this goal through outdoor programs and courses. OTA runs a queer mountain school out of Seattle which offers free day long programs like “intro to kayaking” and “indoor climbing.” They offer a 5 day long summer expedition course in the Pacific Northwest, as well as mentorship for youth in Seattle and the Bay Area. And because Elyse has so much going on, she can’t do it alone. OTA is partnering with established organizations like regionally specific Outward Bounds to offer week long outdoor courses for LGBTQ+ youth, the Appalachian Mountain Club to offer day programs, and NorthWest Youth Corps to run an annual four week Queer Youth Conservation Corps.

Gale Straub – Narration:

When I talked with Elyse, she was coming off a kayaking trip with the Queer Youth Conservation Corps (aka the Queer Crew).

Elyse Rylander:

Just got back a week long sea kayak camping trip in the San Juan’s with our partners at Northwest youth Corps. So they had a teen program where the kiddos were out doing conservation work, uh, Mount Rainier for four weeks. And then they came, did a week of outdoor education with me. Um, we didn’t see any orcas, unfortunately, even though they were in the area, we did see a ton of dolls, porpoise and other Marine wildlife.

Gale Straub – Narration:

After that trip, she jumped right into planning the second annual LGBTQ outdoor summit taking place at Naturebridge, outside of San Francisco. It’s coming up this weekend, and tickets are still available. If your head’s not spinning right now, I’m impressed. I don’t know how Elyse’s wasn’t when I talked with her, though she gives a lot of credit to her partner (and fiance Emily).

Elyse Rylander:

I can’t do it alone. I would be, I don’t know where I would be without my partner Emily. So one of the credit goes to her for sure.

Gale Straub – Narration:

I’m really thankful that Elyse made time for me. I asked her how partnering with other nonprofits like Outward Bound and Northwest Youth Corps has helped her spread the word of Out There Adventures.

Elyse Rylander:

Oh yeah. I think that’s been our key to success. It’s tough for a nonprofit of our size in terms of our annual budget, to be able to cover the overhead and a lot of the logistics that support longer expedition type programs, especially with the youth variety. So we’ve been able to work with a number of program partners and at this point in our history that allow us to achieve some of those objectives and then also provide us a way to kind of get around and circumvent some of those financial logistical barriers.

Gale Straub:

So when you say especially kids, is it that like insurance is more expensive, training’s more expensive?

Elyse Rylander:

No they’re just harder to find. Um, the outreach has, has always been a problem for us. It takes me, you know, maybe six weeks of serious outreach work. So going in and doing presentations, sending tons and tons of emails, doing the social media plugs, circling back and going in and doing presentations again about six months or so of that work to get, you know, maybe a handful of kiddos to come out on one of our courses. And that’s in part due to the fact that we don’t have the same name recognition, but also it’s just a really tough demographic to connect to because I have to do a lot of that outreach in person. We’re only able to connect with the folks that are in this region and what we found with programs like outward bound or this Northwest youth Corps partnership, is that we’re able to, um, reach kiddos from across the country.

Gale Straub – Narration:

Elyse explained why the demographic of teens can be tough to reach.

Elyse Rylander:

Yeah, I think there’s a pretty contentious relationship with a lot of teens and adults just generally. Um, and then that can be further complicated when you are and perhaps your parents are not supportive of that. And you know, we, there’s some just basic logistical components. Like we need to have a risk release signed by a parent or legal guardian if the person is under 18. So if someone’s not out to their parents, then that’s a non-starter for that kiddo. Then even if the parent is not going to kick the kid out because they’re, but maybe they’re not that supportive, that in and of itself can be enough of a barrier for that kid to join our program. Their parents might be okay with them going to a support group for an hour once a week, but that, that might be where it sort of stops.

Elyse Rylander:

Maybe the parents aren’t enthusiastic about them participating in a very openly backpacking trip or sea kayaking trip. So I think that’s some of the biggest issues that we face. And then there’s also, you know, just not a narrative for young folks that promotes going outside and participating in outdoor activities. We hear that time and time again, you know, there were a bunch of kiddos on this crew, sea kayaking expedition that were like, I didn’t know, people did these things. I didn’t know that this was something that was possible for me. It really takes a special young person and then a special group of people to support them, to be able to participate in these activities at this stage in our culture.

Gale Straub:

I love that you call them kiddos, so cute.

Elyse Rylander:

I should probably stop doing that at some point. It is a bit infantilizing, but no, I come from a long line of teachers and I think I picked that up from my mom. Who’s a high school, special education teacher. So nobody’s called me out on it yet. And I’m like, oh, I hope, hope I’m not offending anyone.

Gale Straub:

I read the outside online article about you. And I love that the person who reported it said that you were subconsciously like, put your hands on your hips, just like, just like a leader or a teacher.

Elyse Rylander:

Yeah. Probably got that one from my mom as well.

Gale Straub:

You know, the work that you do is really time consuming, really intense. Are there any like particular kids or stories that you talk in the back of your head for like when the work feels particularly overwhelming?

Elyse Rylander:

Yeah I mean, yes, there are a number of young folks that, that I have had the privilege of working with over the years that I, I definitely think of when, you know, I’m tired and frustrated and wondering if this is working, you know, one person that I’ve, I have talked about often in interviews and articles is, um, Zander McCray who came on our first ever OTA expedition in 2015. And he’s just an amazing young man who has taken his opportunity with OTA to international kayaking trips. He’s looking to start a career with outward bound dander, and I have remained in close contact and it’s been great to see him continue his path in the outdoor education world. And then, you know, just coming off of this expedition the other week in the San Juan’s, I had a young person on that crew come up to me after our, our traditional affirmation circle on the last day of the course.

Elyse Rylander:

And she said to me, you know, I didn’t get a chance to say this to you in the affirmation circle, but you give me hope. I’ve, I’ve never really seen adults. I don’t get exposed to many adults. And I forget that it is possible for me to grow up as a person and that there are many, many opportunities available to me, you know, and those are the things that you think are happening and that teens aren’t always the best at articulating. Um, so it was a really profound moment to have this young woman come up to me and say that after, you know, those five week experience, um, in which we had hoped that was the case, being able to work with the kids out in the woods is what keeps me going, you know, especially in the off season.

Gale Straub:

Yeah. Uh, tell me more about that. Tell me more about the importance of, of adult role models for these kids and young adults. I know you have programs for 14 to 17 and also 18 to 22.

Elyse Rylander:

Yeah I mean, it’s critical, you know, I think, I think it’s great when young folks have supportive adults in their life. Um, we all need that, you know, but unlike other marginalized communities like communities of color, for example, um, the parents can often not reflect the identity of a young person. And so they have to go out and seek that, that sort of visibility and representation in other mediums. And often that is limited to what is portrayed in the media. And that, that is a very different life for a lot of those folks like Ellen degenerates or Caitlin Jenner. You know, those are very complicated, um, narratives of what it means to be. And then in, in popular culture, we see a really limited idea of what the experience is supposed to look like. Um, so I think for young folks, it’s absolutely critical to be able to see a diversity of opportunities and experiences.

Elyse Rylander:

Um, and you know, we, we heard that from the queer young folks on this crew because they, they were working closely with their crew leaders for four weeks and then came out with myself and other co-instructor for that last week. And, you know, those crew leaders have such an amazing impact on those kiddos from being able to, to spend so much time with them, you know, and show them that you can absolutely make it, you know, um, that it, it totally does get better. And, and I, I, again, I think for a community that doesn’t often get to see itself reflected, especially in its family structures, that’s absolutely paramount.

Gale Straub:

And you had an experience of that as a teenager, right. Working at a paddle store. Um, and you grew up in Wisconsin in the Midwest?

Elyse Rylander:

Yes. Yeah. I grew up in a very tiny town just north of Madison and my parents are amazing and have been just phenomenal allies my whole, my whole life, um, in anything that I’ve chosen to do and, and as well as the rest of my family. Um, but yeah, I, the town I grew up in only has 2000 folks, there was maybe one out woman that I was aware of. Um, but I didn’t have any interactions with her growing up. And, and so when I started working at rutabaga paddle sport shop in Madison, when I was 16, um, that really gave me an opportunity to, to meet a whole variety of, of other types of people, um, including a bunch of, of out gay women, one in particular Mo Capus. Who’s the chair of my board and has, has become a dear friend of mine. Um, we met when I was 18. Um, and she became my boss when I was a program instructor at rutabaga then yeah, I’ll never forget the day that I met Mo it was, uh, it was like a whole world had been, been opened up to me

Gale Straub – Narration:

In Out There, Role models take the shape of LGBTQ guides and instructors, as well as mentors in the summit mentorship program out of Seattle and the California Bay Area. As they say, “you can’t be what you can’t see.” We’ll learn more about Elyse and OUT There, after this.

Gale Straub – Narration:

We’re back.

Elyse Rylander:

We look at just its sheer power and its ability to affect our lives. You know, something very tangible for me right now in the Northwest is grappling with the wildfires and the smoke that have been sort of plaguing this region, as well as many other regions on the west coast here. And we can’t do anything about it, right. We just have to, we just have to adapt to whatever nature throws at us.

Gale Straub – Narration:

Elyse believes that nature is a disruptive force, one that holds a lot of lessons for youth.

Elyse Rylander:

And it can, can keep us humble, right? And, and can always remind us that we need to remain fluid and nimble. Otherwise we aren’t going to be successful. And then, you know, when you take that disruption to the idea that I often cite, um, coming from, uh, a theorist named Sarah Ahmed, um, in this idea of the linear versus the nonlinear and linear space as being very reflective in our urban settings, you know, everything is on a straight line. We move in a straight line in, in ways that are designed to sort of shepherd us along in an efficient manner. Um, our buildings are built on 90 degree. We, we sort of prize everything being on the straight and narrow in urban spaces. Um, and then you, which is so can be a pretty oppressive, uh, space for folks to be in, since our identities do not move in sort of that linear fashion.

Elyse Rylander:

Um, but instead kind of bounce all over the place. And then we go out into the natural world and you see the natural world being prized and respected because it is so in opposition to urban spaces, right. It’s physically impossible to move in a straight line because you’re always having to step over something. So it’s a place to see our identities be represented in the physical world. And then, you know, once you start to learn about biology and the ways that the plants and animals interact with each other and other species, we see representations of queerness all over the place. We like to intentionally sort of those stories, um, and show, show the folks, whether they’re, you know, young or old that there is queerness all over. Um, and it is actually incredibly natural. And

Gale Straub:

Is that something that you do towards the beginning of, of a trip through orientation?

Elyse Rylander:

Oh yeah, I mean, we like to pepper it in, you know, whenever, whenever we can. Um, and then we had some sort of specific moments that we incorporate in any activity that’s taking place outside, but the youth programs, we usually run them through a what we now call the Quiroz journey, which is an adaptation of the hero’s journey, that sort of a typical narrative arc and, um, something I found years ago called the six stages of identity development. And so we have them think about their experience as, you know, the, the hero or the queero in the outdoors, as well as in their own life. Um, and it kind of helps connect those skills that they use to move through a challenging experience like being outside and dealing with all of those elements, to the challenging experiences that they have back home being a person.

Gale Straub:

Oh, I love how those lessons make them more comfortable in the outdoors and in themselves.

Elyse Rylander:

Yeah. I always tell the kids that I have higher expectations for them in, in those outdoor settings, because I know that they have had to cultivate resilience in a way that many of their peers have not, um, because of their identity and the same goes for any marginalized group of young folks, you know, you, when you have to experience oppression and when you’re faced with that every single day, you do cultivate skills that maybe your more privileged peers do not, and that makes you more successful in tough experiences, like dealing with the rain and the cold and bugs.

Gale Straub:

Yeah and something that I’ve read several times in your work is that, you know, these kids have to cultivate those safe spaces for themselves. And so to be able to kind of that to nature too, is, is really special.

Elyse Rylander:

Yeah, absolutely.

Gale Straub:

How do you respond when, if someone tells you that everyone is accepted in nature? Like what, what kind of reaction do you get to a statement like that?

Elyse Rylander:

Well, I would say everyone is accepted by nature as a thing that is different from ourselves. Um, so it’s not the natural world that it needs to be made more inclusive. It is already inclusive. It’s the people who need their attitudes to be changed. You know, it’s the people element that is the most terrifying for me as a risk manager. When I have a group of folks, especially kids out in, in the back country, right. I’m scared about what’s going to happen or be set at the trail head or at a campground. I’m not scared about, you know, what’s going to happen when we are actually out there on the trail and been on our own, you know, just deal with the natural world. And we see that time and time again, you know, we see that every year when we have problems at trail heads or at campgrounds with homophobia and transphobia, you know, I, I get that sentiment, uh, from folks, but I, I also then call into question how aware that person is of what is actually happening. And, and it implies that that person is coming from a pretty remarkable place of privilege to not understand that that’s a quaint idea, but that’s just not our lived reality yet.

Gale Straub:

So in what ways do you foster a sense of inclusivity on the trips?

Elyse Rylander:

Oh, I mean, I think it is inherent just in the fact that we are, you know, a group of folks and we always try to toe the line between wanting the kids to have an experience in which they get to open up to each other, um, and themselves and the instructors, um, you know, but also wanting to be mindful of the narrative in the community. Um, that can be pretty negative, you know, pretty full of darkness, pretty ominous. I think that there, there is, I don’t think I know there is a lot of depression and anxiety and homelessness and substance abuse and suicide attempts in the community. And so those can be the things that we focus on. Uh, I think a little too much. So, you know, we try to honor those lived experiences of the young folks that come to our programs, uh, while also, you know, trying to remind them that they are immensely powerful and can, can achieve whatever it is that, that they want to, and that they do have support systems. We achieve that through your standard programming that you would find in any outdoor education program that cultivates connectedness and communication and team building and all of that good stuff. But I, I think a lot of that just comes organically from the young folks that we have and the instructors, because we’re all brought there for a particular reason.

Gale Straub:

Is there something that you do hope, and I know you said earlier in the conversation that it was great to hear that one of the kids had a really positive experience with you as like a role model. Um, but is there anything that you hope that they take with them, you know, after either a day or a multi-day trip?

Elyse Rylander:

Yeah. I mean, I, I hope that they want to continue to go outside. You know, I think that we, we are in a pretty terrifying time as it comes to, um, environmental stewardship. And I think that we need all hands on deck, you know, so I think in order to be successful in making sure that our planet’s natural resources are not completely depleted in the very near future, we need folks of all varieties to be engaged and have a stake in what goes on with our natural world. So I hope that they deepen their appreciation, you know, for the planet. And then I also hope that they can identify at least a few more folks that they have in their corner. And I think that we’re pretty successful on both fronts. And then, you know, I obviously hope that they remember how to do address stroke or technical skills that we teach them so that they can continue to do those things, you know, beyond that experience. But my biggest objectives or hopes are that they grow their sense of community and their sense of place in that community and also deepen their love for the natural world. Hmm.

Gale Straub:

Is it, is it hard at the end of, you know, if it’s a week, is it hard to let them go?

Elyse Rylander:

Yes, absolutely. And I, as we get bigger and bigger and I, I lose the ability to stay in touch with them. Um, you know, that’s, that’s a bit saddening as well because I just am not quite sure, you know, what’s going on with them. Um, like I used to have a better finger on the pulse of when we were a little bit smaller, but you just have to, you have to hope that they’re doing all right. And, and, you know, the, the great thing about this line of work is that years later, you know, I could get a random email from someone about some amazing thing that they’ve, that they’re doing with their lives now. So I kind of, I kind of look forward to that potential in the future.

Gale Straub:

That’s really lovely. Yeah. You talked about growing bigger and the way that out there is partnering with other nonprofits who are better able to, to finance certain things or have the logistics to do certain things. What are some of the hurdles for you for, for growth for out there?

Elyse Rylander:

Oh, I mean, we remain in this kind of fascinating cycle of in order to be interesting to funders of all varieties, whether that is foundations, different grants opportunities, or even private, we need to be putting up large participation numbers right. In demonstrating that we are effectively engaging this community in this work. But in order to do that, I need that, you know, that support financially to be able to do the outreach and the marketing, and to be able to run the programs that are, you know, not, not cheap to run. So we’re in a fascinating cycle. And when we’ve been in this place for a couple of years with, with growth, um, both in terms of our revenue and our participants served every year, I am historically not known for my patients. And so I would love to see that growth on both those fronts expedited a little bit more, um, you know, so part of it is just, just continuing to, to plot along and, and, and hope that, um, that change will come.

Elyse Rylander:

I had conversation with Shelma jun a few months ago about nonprofits and, you know, she’s, cause she spent a long time of her career by long portion of her career in nonprofits. Um, and she was like, yeah, it takes a nonprofit about 10 years to get its feet under it, you know, versus what they say for a for-profit business, which is like three to five years. Then I’m definitely feeling that reality because we are in technically you’re five and, um, we’ve still have a long way to go to reach what I feel like would be good financial sustainability.

Gale Straub:

Is your vision for out there to be a more recognizable name nationwide?

Elyse Rylander:

Oh, I mean, that would be fantastic. I think the we’re in an interesting place with, with the organization in that we’ve been around for, you know, five years or so. And so we are, we’re looking ahead, um, to the next three to five years through that sort of strategic plan lens. And I think that there’s so many possibilities for us. Um, and I always joke that I’m going for global domination. So I would love to see OTA become as recognizable as outdoor Afro or Latino outdoors or some of these other folks that are doing amazing work in this space. Um, I also, the pessimist in me, uh, wonders what the longevity of that is. Um, and it’s interesting to talk to different folks in this work and get reactions from people that are like, oh no, you’ll, you know, you’ll definitely need to be around for the next 20 to 25 years.

Elyse Rylander:

The society is not changing that fast, but then I work with young folks and not just young folks, but, um, anybody who is, you know, under the age of 20 right now and their whole world of you is so different. Um, and I think that they are able to find their needs met in a number of, you know, mainstream organizations and we’re seeing mainstream programs, um, sort of change the way they do business so that they can accommodate and, and be truly welcoming of anybody that wants to participate in their programs. Um, so I don’t know, know, I don’t know if we will need to be around, but that, that would be the ideal, right? I think all social service nonprofits, which I sort of categorize us as are ultimately trying to work themselves out of a job. And when you achieve that, you have achieved your true mission, you know, and that it’s time to move on and find a new problem to tackle or, or whatever the case might be. So, you know, we’ll see, I think it’s a, it’s a big question, mark, that is partially dependent on the way that society continues to move forward or not.

Gale Straub:

And do you think that those kids that you mentioned, do you think that they’re mirroring society, or do you think that they’re kind of carving out a space for themselves despite society?

Elyse Rylander:

Well, I mean, I think that they’re doing the classic thing that we all do when we’re young, you know, every, every generation is a reaction to the generation previously, you know, right ahead of it, or maybe a few generations ahead of it. And so I think that what we’re seeing now is this generation Z, I think they’re called is, is taking what the millennials have done, but taking it to a step further, you know, and trying to find their own identity in their own place, in this like overall societal narrative. And so I think that it is both those things. They are trying to carve out a place for themselves and figure out who they are and that it is also a reaction to what might seem like too conservative of a viewpoint for millennials or gen X-ers. And so they’re like, you know what, we’re going to take this a step further. We’re going to send it socially.

Gale Straub:

That’s awesome. Um, side note, have you seen eighth grade?

Elyse Rylander:

No.

Gale Straub – Narration:

Okay. Eighth grade is a movie about an awkward eighth grader. And I hadn’t watched it when I chatted with Elise and I still haven’t watched it, but it’s on my list for Friday night.

Gale Straub:

I haven’t either. I really want to see it.

Elyse Rylander:

You couldn’t pay me enough money to go back to like be a young person again. Yeah.

Gale Straub:

I’m just going to bawl when I watch it. I cry anytime there’s like a dance in a movie or like anything. I went to one dance when I was in sixth grade and no one asked me to dance and I didn’t go back to another dance for, until college.

Elyse Rylander:

It’s. So growing up it’s so it’s so painful. I was just thinking about that. I think this morning on my run and feeling like I’m not totally grown up yet and just like, gosh, I’m so different than when I was 23. And even being that young, you couldn’t, you couldn’t pay me to go do that again.

Gale Straub:

That’s a good thing in certain ways, you know, like that you you’re comfortable where you’re at.

Elyse Rylander:

That’s true. That’s true.

Gale Straub:

Um, so speaking of that, like with all, all that you do and you care for a lot of people, what do you do to take care of yourself?

Elyse Rylander:

Yeah, I, um, I’m still trying to figure that out. That’s why I said earlier, so thankful for my partner, Emily, um, because she’s able to bring me back down to earth and, um, and support me, but also challenged me to take the time to meditate or do some things that, that I’m like, oh, I don’t, I don’t need to do that. You know, I can keep working or if I send one more email, then I’ll feel better. I didn’t get to get outside this summer. Um, as much as I normally do this, this kayaking trip was actually the first time that I was on the water all summer, which hasn’t happened, I think ever in the history of my life.

Elyse Rylander:

So I was like, oh, okay. I need to, to take a step back and kind of reprioritize some of those things in my life because I totally feel that the negative effects when I, when I don’t spend enough time outside, I’m just not the person that I want to be. But I think it’s a, it’s a constant learning process ever lied a little too much on my youthful, exuberance and energy to kind of just power me through. And I’m, I’m feeling the negative effects of that. You know, I’m getting a little bit more tired. So it’s, it’s a great time for me to probably put a little bit more emphasis on taking care of, of myself. Um, and thankfully I have a great support team and not only Emily, but family and other friends that I think see that and are willing to help support me move through that. It’d be really awesome. I wouldn’t have to be so stressed if we did get that million dollar grant or something. So if someone could just win the lottery and, you know, write a check for us, that would be, that would be excellent.

Gale Straub:

You’d be high on my list. If I, if I won the lottery.

Gale Straub – Narration:

In the meantime, the second annual LGBTQ summit is just around the corner happening this Friday at nature bridge near San Francisco.

Elyse Rylander:

Uh, so this year we are looking to sort of build upon that awesome momentum and we are expanding it to three days. So we’ll have a two and a half full days of programming. That’s going to be at the nature bridge golden gate campus, um, which is down in the Marin Headlands. It’s a beautiful space. We’re super excited to be there. They’ve been amazingly supportive and we’ve got, um, some of the same folks from last year are going to be participating in supporting. So we’ve got brand names like Patagonia, REI, Sue Reckner, the CEO of Merrill is going to be speaking hip. Camp’s going to be there. Um, and then we have lots of folks from the conservation and outdoor education world. Um, the wilderness society is a huge sponsor of us. Again this year, my co-organizer Hannah Melbourne, um, is a employee with them and they’ve been doing great work over there and we’re stoked.

Elyse Rylander:

I think it’s going to be a fantastic event. Um, it’s open to folks and allies, um, which is sort of different than some other identity specific events that happen in the industry. And we made that intentional choice because I think that the community and the narrative about equity in the industry is a little bit different than some other marginalized communities. And so I think it’s important for allies to be a part of that process. Um, there’s also, we’re just also really rep underrepresented in positions of power. And so I would, I would like to have the, you know, straight cisgender white dude executive in, in the conference and in the space and actually learning something that he can take back to make change versus not having that person there at all. But we, at the same time are going to be offering spaces for folks to come together around a specific identity.

Elyse Rylander:

So we’ll be caucusing, um, the majority of the day on Friday, and I’ll be running workshops for those allies, um, so that they can move through the rest of the experience, um, with that allyship intentionality in mind so that they aren’t doing any undue emotional labor on the participants that are there together, you know, around community. So we’re super excited should be a really fun event. And with that space at nature, bridge opens up a ton of awesome programming, outdoor programming opportunities for us are going to be doing some yoga on some trail rounds and some other cool stuff. Um, in addition to the workshops and presentations, so everybody should come

Gale Straub – Narration:

Keeping with the spirit of how we started this conversation. I want to share what happened at the end. Usually I ask the interviewee, if they thought I was going to ask them something over the course of the conversation that I didn’t ask, usually something new comes up and I get insight into what the person was hoping for or hoping to be asked, at least surprised me.

Gale Straub:

Um, is there anything that I didn’t ask you that you thought that I would ask you?

Elyse Rylander:

Um, gosh, I don’t think so. I feel like we, you know, we covered the, the basics.

Gale Straub:

Yeah. Yeah. I know. I feel like I didn’t ask enough about you, you know, well,

Elyse Rylander:

I mean, in truth, my work is me at this stage of the game, so there’s not a whole lot of interesting stuff going on other than the fact that I’m getting married next year. That’s fun and, and exciting, but that’s sort of the only exciting thing I’m going on.

Gale Straub:

Congratulations. Are you going to go back to Madison for that?

Elyse Rylander:

No, We are getting married out on orcas island, uh, here in the San Juan’s, but Emily is also from Wisconsin. We didn’t meet until we were both out here living in Seattle, but it’s, uh, it’s just too humid back in Wisconsin in August. So we’re opting for the, the nice Pacific Northwest cool summer day.

Gale Straub:

That makes a lot of sense, but I’m imagining you guys both like paddling to, to the wedding. Um, but I’m going to stop with that visual.

Elyse Rylander:

Yes, That’d be awesome. Emily is actually a canoeist at heart and does not necessarily love the sea kayaking as much, but you know, I’m doing, doing my job, um, to try to bring her around. And the engagement story actually did involve sea kayaking in which I thought she was not going to survive, but we made it through.

Gale Straub:

So did you Ask her after the perilous trip or in the middle of it? Um,

Elyse Rylander:

After we paddled out to this little island called DOE island, it’s like maybe a 15 minute paddle away from the resort that we’re going to have the ceremony at. And it was a little windy, little choppy and the title currents do really funny things out there. And I actually didn’t even want to go paddling, but I had this whole plan of Delilah island. That’s an important place in our history and everything. And so we get out there and it was kind of a crappy day, just in general. And should we get out to the island? And she’s like, cool. So now what cause there’s nothing to do on this island. It’s so small. So I just had to pretend to be really interested in tide pooling. And then, you know, there was this whole process with a love note under a rock and blah, blah, blah. So it made sense. And then she was more okay with the fact that I had drugged her out onto the high seas.

Gale Straub:

Oh, it makes for a good story too.

Elyse Rylander:

She was a pill. I was like, we just have to do this. Just get to the island.

Gale Straub – Narration:

Thanks so much to Elyse Rylander for taking the time to talk with me back in 2018. And today, she has some exciting news: the LGBTQ Outdoor Summit is coming back in 2022. Mark your calendars for August 1 – 4th 2022 at the National Conservation Training Center. More information available at LGBTQOutdoorSummit.com.

Learn more about OUT There Adventures by heading to outthereadventures.org.

This was an archival episode of She Explores and it’s an honor to have been a small part of WorldPride. Head to www.worldpridepodstage.com to see all the episodes featured, or search “WorldPride Pod Stage” wherever podcasts are found.

Thanks to our sponsors: Goodr, Yonder, Pachamama, and Rumpl.

You can find She Explores on social media, our website, and wherever you listen to podcasts. You can find me on Instagram @galestraub.

If you enjoy listening, there are different ways to support us. You can subscribe, leave a review, and share with a friend. And if you’d like to connect, join us in the She Explores podcast facebook group!

Music in this episode is licensed through MusicBed. This episode was produced and hosted by me, Gale Straub.

She Explores is a production of Ravel Media released on Wednesdays. We’ll be back in two weeks. Until then, stay curious.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *