Advocacy Toolkit: Vote The Outdoors in 2018

If I could urge people to take just one action for outdoor advocacy in 2018, it would be to vote. In the last year, we’ve witnessed the dismantling of national monuments, erasure and denial of our planet’s climate change crisis, attacks on our public lands, and please-don’t-get-me-started-on-how-we’re-treating-our-fellow-humans-these-days.

This is a call to arms.  Your ballot is your greatest weapon in the fight for justice and representation in our government.

So, how do you get educated on the issues that matter most, and figure out which candidates will best represent your outdoor values in Congress? These resources will help empower you to vote, vote, vote the outdoors:

  • OIA’s Voters Guide 2018: In my opinion, this is the ultimate resource for outdoor voters this election. The team at OIA put together an extensive guide that covers: explanations on specific voter issues, endorsements of candidates in key races, a Congressional scorecard (see below), toolkits to help you spread the word, and more. It’s a true voter hub.
  • OIA Congressional Scorecard: A breakdown every incumbent candidate based on how they voted on issues like climate change, LWCF, wildfire funding, public lands, and more. Each candidate receives a letter grade–unsurprisingly, both Utah reps got an F. Did I mention how important it is to vote?!
  • Protect Our Winters Voter Guidebook: In addition to incumbent candidates, POW has breakdowns on every candidate on issues like climate, energy and environment. This interactive tool will help you create a ballot guide that you can print out and bring to the polls with you.
  • Vote.Org: Need to update registration? Go to Vote.org. Can’t vote in person? Vote.org can help. Don’t know where your polling place is? Vote.org does.

 

Specific state + ballot initiative resources:

  • Colorado: Check out this state-wide voter guide from Elevation Outdoors. It has all the amendments, propositions, candidate info, and more. 10/10

*Note: If you have additional state + local resources, please send them my way! I will be updating this through the election.

Once you’ve dug in and become an empowered voter, you’ll be moved to start taking action now beyond just bubbling in your ballot. There is so much you can do to support voters and help others make their voices heard. These are some of the ways you can take action this election season:

  • Empower your friends, family and colleagues to vote too. Help your roommate register to vote, translate ballots and voter issues for your abuela or your neighbors, put Vote.org in your instagram bio and remind the people you love regularly to get activated. Offer to drive folks to the polls on election day.
  • Join me + OIA on Oct 15th to pledge to #VoteTheOutdoors. Post on your social media channels on 10/15 with a message that says “I pledge to #VoteTheOutdoors this election–will you?” For the full toolkit and activation, join the Outdoor Advocate Network on Facebook and you’ll get access to a suite of social media posts + graphics I designed to get the word out. (Or just use the graphic here.)
  • Donate to your local candidates. Whether you have $5 or $50 to give, your local candidates need your support to win these races. If you can’t donate money, donate your time and energy. Round up your friends and help canvas neighborhoods. My parents in Miami hosted a dinner party meet-and-greet to support a local candidate. If you’re a graphic designer or have talents you can serve with, offer your services. – And if you’re looking for someone to support, may I suggest Shireen Ghorbani in Utah’s 3rd congressional district?
  • Keep talking about outdoor politics and the importance of voting. Post on social media, bring it up around the dinner table, invite friends over for a voter education party. Flex your voice, and make it heard often.

Listen, I get it: I’ve ‘forgotten’ to vote too. I’ve missed the registration deadlines, been traveling on voting day, whatever excuse is in the book for not voting, I’ve used it. But with this political climate, I will never miss an opportunity to make my voice heard through voting again. If you travel frequently or work a job that doesn’t allow you to get to a polling place on election day, remember that you can vote by mail. 

Not registered yet, or need to check your voter status? Here are the registration deadlines for all 50 states. Some states even let you register on election day (which they all should).

This isn’t about Democrats, or Republicans. This is about using our vote to protect the outdoors and voting for what’s fair and just for our fellow humans in this country. Political culture has become a beastly, embarrassing mess in so many ways, and I truly, deeply believe that if we make our voices heard, we can restore civility, community, and hope for America. I believe in my country, because I believe in the good people who live here. Justice will prevail, friends, if we just vote.

 

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Outdoorist Tips for (Easy) Eco-Living

As an outdoor advocate, my dedication to caring for the land isn’t exclusive to my work to protect public lands–it’s embedded into the core of my daily lifestyle. To care about the outdoors means to care about the planet, climate change, plastic waste, energy, supply chain (where your products come from), air + water quality, the works. If you truly want to do good for the outdoor places you love, your life should reflect that. If you want to be an environmental activist, make every day a personal protest.

Shifting towards a more eco-minded lifestyle doesn’t have to be dramatic. You can adapt this mindset to whatever your budget, energy, and give-a-shit levels are. You don’t need to live in a house with solar panels and drive an electric car to start doing good for your planet.

One important note: While there are small, relatively inexpensive (and free) ways to be more eco-friendly, it should be acknowledged that ‘living green’ is often a privileged lifestyle. Buying organic food, driving an electric car, investing in earth-friendly products is often more expensive than choosing a more earth-impacting lifestyle. Something worth acknowledging, and for those of us privileged enough to choose to go eco–let’s think about how we can support others who aren’t.

Here are a few of the ways I’ve incorporated eco-living into my everyday:

Change your mindset.

This whole respect yo mama, be a better human existing on this planet, live more sustainably thing is truly a lifestyle shift. And while it involves commitment, it also becomes a snowball–the more you roll with it, the easier and bigger the movement becomes to adopt. And the more you open your eyes to how wasteful and disrespectful to Pachamama humans are, the more compelled you’ll feel to honor and respect her.

Think smaller. Think local. Think human-powered.

Support your local community and economy.

Source as much produce + products from your local farmers market as possible (there are fewer joys greater than having an egg guy, kombucha fam, and Cuban coffee lady). Patronize restaurants that source their ingredients from local farms. The Farmers Market Coalition has a sweet map of markets across the US–I love using this tool to find new markets when I’m on the road.

Think about the carbon footprint of the products and goods you buy. How far did your ordered-online coffee table have to travel (and how much packing supples did it use) to get to your living room? Could you have supported a local woodworker to get a locally made coffee table instead? For the price of 2 gonna-fall-apart-in-a-season H&M sundresses, wouldn’t you rather have purchased a handmade dress that’ll last for 50 years from a local artist? Focusing on locally made goods is 10/10 one of the more satisfying and community-stoke-building ways to live more eco-friendly.

Ditch single-use plastic.

  • Buy a set of reusable bamboo utensils from To-Go Ware, and take ’em everywhere with you. Make it a habit to keep these in your everyday pack. On the trail, in airports, while you’re eating out on the go, give yourself no excuse for using plastic utensils.
  • In the US alone, we use–and promptly throw out–500 million straws every single day. Repeat after me: “No straw, please.” Start saying this, every time you order at a restaurant, go through a drive-thru, get delivery. It takes a while to get used to saying, and sometimes you’ll get funny looks, but eventually it becomes second nature. If you simply can’t do without a straw, buy a reusable one! I love straws, so I have like 5 reusable ones–though I am currently most stoked on the FinalStraw, which was created by a lovely friend.
    If you need visceral proof of why you should say no to plastic straws, watch this video of a sea turtle having a straw pulled out of its nostril. If you still feel okay about using plastic straws after that, plz unfollow me.
  • Get a reusable coffee thermos or mug. Ain’t no shame in treating yourself to a $5 latte on the regular, but there is shame in creating waste every time you indulge. Treat both yoself and the planet with some love–and a lot of coffeeshops give a little discount when you BYO! I use this Hydro Flask 22 oz. thermos, but reusable mugs are very frequently given out as swag at events and such, so you can likely score one for free too.
  • Keep a few reusable canvas bags in your car at all times. Let’s be real, you’ve got like 20 stuffed under your kitchen sink, yet somehow you never have one with you when you’re grocery shopping. It happens to us all, so be prepared and keep ’em stashed in your car instead. Commit yourself to never using a plastic bag ever again. This has been the most consistent elimination of single use plastic for me.
  • Bring your own take-out containers. Walking to the bagel shop to grab breakfast to-go? Bring your own tupperware to take ’em home in! I live a block away from killer taco stands, and instead of consuming a styrofoam plate every time I stop by (which is…frequently), I’ve started to bring my own plate. Think about all the places you can eliminate single-use dining ware–there are a lot of small changes we can make to reduce this disposable culture.
  • Bonus points: If you’re a little piggy like me and get delivery often, leave a little note in your GrubHub order for “no utensils or napkins, please!”

Play outdoors with yo mama in mind.

Every time you recreate, keep the earth in mind. Are you respecting her? Are you treating her well, helping her heal? Every time we play outside, we are taking from the earth. Are you giving back whenever you take? Tread lightly, leave no trace, pack-it-out, don’t bust the crust, respect the wildlife, and encourage others to do the same.

I challenge you to adopt a habit I picked up a few summers ago: pick up one piece of trash every time you go for a hike, run, climb, ski, whatever. Just one wrapper, piece of tape, straw, whatever you find on your adventure for the day. If everyone that used the trails did that, our public outdoor spaces would be a helluva lot cleaner.

Eat healthier–for yourself and for your earth.

This topic deserves its own conversation and post (which will come), because the choices we make with our food consumption plays a huge role in the relationship we have with our carbon footprint and lifestyle supply chain. As I mentioned earlier, knowing the source of your food is a major way to eat eco. Not only does a freshly picked apple from a local orchard taste better and fresher, it also has a much smaller footprint than an imported, months-old, sprayed-in-who-knows-what apple from the grocery store.

One of the top ways to individually reduce our carbon footprints is by going meatless. Before you groan and go back to your burger (oh how I miss those), hear me out. Cutting back our consumption of animal products is a process, a personal choice, and has many layers. For some folks, giving up meat isn’t an option–and I get that. If you do eat meat, commit to only eating local, sustainably + humanely raised meat, or wild hunted harvests. Consider adopting Meat-free Mondays, or only eating meat on weekends. If you do decide to give it up completely, do whatever works best for you (like me, I am vegetarian for environmental reasons, and it’s hard sometimes, I totally ate a piece of fish last week).

If you’re a real champion for the earth, go vegan. I am not one of those people, and I applaud folks who are.

Go out of your way to reduce your carbon footprint.

  • Ride your bike more! In the summertime, I often try to see how long I can go without driving my car. Salt Lake City has excellent bike lanes, as do many bigger cities. Skip the car, rally your crew, and pedal!
  • Take public transportation. Again, why drive your car when you don’t have to? Public transportation is an inexpensive way to travel, and acts as a built-in designated driver. Salt Lake City’s TRAX system is fantastic, especially for easy airport transportation.
  • Carpool, especially if you’re heading to a crowded outdoor spot like ski resorts. If it’s a bluebird winter day, you know that you and everyone you know are heading to the same canyon to hit the slopes–so reduce the amount of emissions pouring into the air AND help reduce congestion by hopping in someone else’s car or offering rides to your friends.
  • Consider your air travel footprint. For a lot of folks in my industry, hopping on airplanes is practically part of our job descriptions. It’s also a major contributor to our personal carbon footprints. There is no easy solution here, except to consider the frequency and necessity of our travel by plane. Recently, I had two occasions to be on the east coast within 2 weeks. My options were to either fly to Maine/New Hampshire, fly back to SLC, and then hop on a plane a few days later to return to D.C., or to just combine the trips and the impact of those flights. So, I chose the later and ended up on a two-week adventure around the east coast–driving, so still not carbon neutral by any means, but better.

Make big changes where you can.

This one is for the over-achievers. Living more ‘earth-friendly’ is currently still much more expensive and inaccessible than living an ‘average’ carbon footprint. That said, if you are in a position to take bigger steps towards an eco lifestyle, do it. Install a few solar panels on your roof, focus on native landscaping in your backyard, buy an electric car. If you’re making big purchases, use your consumer power to support more sustainable economic options. You’re investing in a healthier future for yourself, and the entire planet.

In the course of writing this blog post, it’s become rather apparent to me that this idea of living more sustainably is far more worthy of a series–so, let me know what topics you want to hear more about first: the much-demanded tour of my eco-house, a guide to my favorite sustainable products, how to make your backyard/landscaping more earth friendly, any and all of the above?

And happy Earth Day. Today and every single day that we get to exist on this incredible hunk of rock and water orbiting around in outer space. Note: This blog post includes Amazon affiliate links! 

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Guide to Outdoor Advocacy at Outdoor Retailer

Guide to Outdoor Advocacy at Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show 2018

My agenda is jam-packed–and changing every hour. I haven’t seen the sun in days. My eyes are bleeding from scheduling social media and creating Facebook events. Because, well, it’s almost Outdoor Retailer.

This is the first Outdoor Retailer event held in Denver, and while I am still palpably bitter about SLC losing the tradeshow, there’s a lot of energy, excitement, and anticipation of how the new show will go.

I am happy to report that it seems the trend of using this gathering to really charge forward on important industry issues like advocacy and inclusion is going strong. There isn’t a dedicated public lands action center like there was at 2017 summer market in SLC–but the moving the tradeshow so quickly was no easy task, so I’ll refrain from making a fuss until next summer.

There’s a lot to cover at Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show, so I rounded up the most important events in my own agenda to share with you. Panels, parties, the works.

Guide to Outdoor Advocacy at Outdoor Retailer

Basically, here’s what my agenda looks like (and what yours should too):

Wednesday

  • 10:15 AM: Filling the Void: Taking on Global Warming When Our Country Isn’t climate change talk at the Hyatt Regency in the Capitol Ballroom with OIA’s Amy Roberts, Mario Molina from POW, Chris Davenport, and more.
  • 3:00 PM: Trade School opening happy hour at Understudy. This concept event is happening throughout OR, so be sure to stop by and explore at some point. It’s “five days of art & discussion offering a window into the real work of outdoor-inspired artists, entrepreneurs, athletes and advocates.”
  • 7:30 PM: Night Zero Untamed: A Welcome Party for Outdoor Retailer at the McNichols Civic Center Building. To be honest I still don’t fully understand what this is but there’s one helluva speaker line-up, the website is oddly impressive, and something tells me this is a party not to miss. Everyone seems to be involved, like Access Fund, Climate Reality Project, PEW, Gov. Hickenlooper, Outside, Patagonia, it’s insane.

Thursday

  • 7:00 AM: Industry Breakfast with Paul Hawken at Bellco Theatre. I know, it’s early–BUT, this is the event kicking off Outdoor Retailer, and Paul Hawken is the man. “Find out how we, as outdoor businesses and individuals, can play a critical role in turning the tide on our climate’s future.” Make sure you’re wearing your badge to get in!
  • 7:00 PM: POW Party at McNichols Building. Start your day thinking about climate change, and end your day thinking about climate change. There will be food, booze, speakers, gear, the works. “Because who said citizen activism had to be boring?”
  • 7:00 PM: The Gathering at 1555 Central St. Unit 201. All I really know about this is that the women of Wylder Goods invited me, there’s going to be wild game and Unita beer, and it’s a celebration of conservation, food, and community.

Friday

  • 7:00 AM: Conservation Alliance Breakfast with Kevin Fedarko & Pete McBride at the Hyatt Regency. To be honest, I’ll probably still be sleeping, but if you’re a morning person, these breakfasts are always inspiring.
  • 1:00 PM: Book signing with Shawnté Salabert at the Mountaineers Books booth (#44104-UL). Shawnté is a treat to encounter, and an inspiring woman, author, litter-picker-upper, and friend. Go get a copy of her book!
  • 3:30 PM: Monumental Decisions Panel at RANGER Station. I literally moved my panel to a different day so that I could be at this one. It’s going to be good. Powerhouses like Patagonia, REI, KEEN, OIA, Parks Project and more coming together to talk about work we’ve done for protecting national monuments, and what’s ahead.

Saturday

  • 10:00 AM: Indigenous Connections: Re-envisioning Recreation and Public Land panel with NativesOutdoors at The Camp (Booth 56117-UL). “Join in a discussion with Native American recreation leaders on how the outdoor industry can more effectively partner with indigenous peoples.”
  • 11:00 AM: Allyship 101 at RANGER Station, moderated by Elyse Rylander of OUT There Adventures. This session “explores the relationship between the outdoors and social justice. Through an in-depth discussion, we’ll examine our individual impact on creating a more equitable and inclusive outdoors from both a personal and professional standpoint.”
  • 3:30 PM:Leading Outdoor Advocacy through Social Media panel in the Mineral Room at Hyatt Regency (I’m moderating this, woo!). Join emerging leaders in the digital space, like women from Melanin Base Camp, She-Explores, Indigenous Women Hike and Flash Foxy, as we explore the impact and opportunities in using social media to drive the next generation of outdoor advocacy. Learn how to take action and become a powerful voice on relevant topics like public lands, climate change, diversity, and local community issues.
  • 4:30 PM: Live Art with Sarah Uhl at the Conservation Colorado Happy Hour (Booth: 44030-UL). Sarah is magical, and she’s painting a 40 piece mural be built LIVE on the side of the Outdoor Research tiny house. AND Colorado Senator Bennet and Congressman Polis are expected to announce the introduction to the Continental Divide Wilderness Bill.
  • 6:30 PM: Backcountry Film Festival’s Night of Stoke at Bellco Theatre. Films and friends and athletes and whatnot.

Sunday

Monday

  • All day: DEMO DAY! I’m heading up to Copper Mountain to take the hype out onto the slopes for SIA’s Demo Day. I’ll be covering it for OIA and will likely injure myself while trying to ski.

What am I missing? Where will you be each day and evening during Outdoor Retailer? What events are you most looking forward to? (Mine, obvi, right?)

I can’t wait to hit the road and get out there to see all my favorite folks in Denver and start scheming how we’re going to make the outdoors a better place in 2018. See you next week!

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FAQ: Outdoor Industry Career Advice

“How did you get started?” “How can I do what you do outside all the time?” “How do you make money?” I get asked these questions on a daily basis, and I wanted to answer them here today:

There is no secret pathway to success. I studied creative writing at Florida State University, got a gig writing office supply product descriptions at $10 a pop, and decided on a whim to pour my entire life savings into a yearlong climbing-van trip. I borrowed $14,000 from my dad, bought a Sprinter van, did a pretty mediocre job of building it out, and hit the road.

I fell in love with the outdoors during those 365 days spent living on public lands and ‘finding myself’ at the crags and in the desert, and after a rough break-up post-trip, I moved to Denver. Broke and desperate, I found a listing for a part-time social media job with the Outdoor Industry Association. I got the job working 10 hours/week, and it quickly became my deepest passion. I hustled to make it full-time, stayed in-house for a year, pitched my bosses to let me travel full-time for another year as a work project, then went to pursue freelancing.

I am sponsored by Cotopaxi, asked to host workshops + panels, contribute my writing to small publications, get flown to beautiful places for media projects. That’s the glamorous bit I am often asked about. But those getting-paid-to-hike moments are only made possible by the year I spent sitting in a cubicle at OIA. Working hard, being humbled, failing, succeeding, learning, crying on my commute home (turns out I don’t thrive in traditional work environments). As for my sponsor? I met the Cotopaxi team during a work tradeshow, and brands only know who I am through my loud mouth about issues I discovered through my work with OIA.

There’s not a day I wake up and don’t think “damn, I am grateful for this.” But for every shot of me summiting a mountain on a Tuesday, there’s also a shot of me in a bathrobe, cranking out spreadsheets with soup crusted on my upper lip (literally right now, and this bathrobe doesn’t exactly smell fresh). I work weekends and late nights; I spend road trips searching for wi-fi so I can hop on conference calls. It’s a dream, it’s a slog, it’s hard, it’s exactly what I want to be doing with my life.

So how can you “do what I do?You can’t. You shouldn’t want to. You should find that problem that makes you tick, and put every ounce of your energy into building solutions for it. For me, it’s protecting public lands and building a better outdoor community. For you, it could be designing sustainable outdoor gear, perfecting camp granola recipes–whatever it is, make it yours, work hard + relentless, tell your story. The world is listening.

Here are a few steps you can start taking today to find your path:

  • Don’t be afraid to start small. My first job in the outdoor industry was a 10-hours/week part-time “we’re mostly testing this out” job. So for three hours, three days a week, I did the best damn job I could possibly do in the office. Get a job at your local REI, volunteer for an organization you’d love to run one day, start your blog and write in it every week–even if your mom is the only one reading it right now.
  • Get involved with, and support, organizations that align with that you want to do. Want to build a career around climbing? Join the American Alpine Club and Access Fund, get involved with crag clean-up days with your local climbing coalition, attend community workshops + fundraisers. Start following these orgs on social media, engage with them, and start building relationships with them. I’ve learned that community connections are immeasurably valuable for getting your foot in the door.
  • Find your skills and focus on them. Here’s a little secret: the days of making a living off an Instagram full of pretty outdoor photos full of free gear were a quick blip on the radar–that is not a real path to forge. The folks “making it” are those who are doing big things, taking action, and merely using social media as a platform to amplify a bigger message. It’s not just about being good with a camera anymore. Where can you add value? Are you a great event organizer? Do you have a knack for e-mail campaigns? Do you love public speaking? Focus on the skills that set you apart from the rest of the pack.
  • Keep at it, for a long time. My success didn’t happen overnight, or within a year, or within a few years. I started this blog in 2009. I didn’t get a real outdoor industry job until 2014, and most people in the industry didn’t have a clue who I was until this year. It’s a long, hard, uphill hike. If you’re adding value to the space, and truly dedicated, you’ll make it. Just. Keep. At. It.

Oh, and how do I make money? I am asked this a lot, and luckily for you, I’m not shy about talking finances. I don’t make a lot of money. Last year, I brought in like $25,000 (before taxes). The outdoor industry isn’t a get-rich-quick space, especially for freelancers. I have a contract with Cotopaxi, I pick up freelance projects with brands, I write when I can, I occasionally collaborate with brands for sponsored content, and I very proudly work on OIA’s social media. Freelancing is a constant hustle. You never stop looking for work, stressing about taxes, and wondering where the hell you’re going to get health insurance from.

Got more questions? Leave ’em in the comments, and I’ll add them to this post!

This blog post was originally an Instagram caption, which you can find here.

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Guide to Public Lands Advocacy at Outdoor Retailer

Twice a year, I turn into a weird beast version of myself. My calendar is a color-coded event apocalypse where every afternoon and evening is quadruple booked. My inbox? Insanity. I do ridiculous things like think about my outfits in advance. It’s Outdoor Retailer week, and for some strange reason, I love it. This is the last of the tradeshows in Salt Lake City–I’ve already cried once, whatever. There’s a heavy layer of ‘the public lands issue’ settled over the Salt Palace. I’m way into that, because it means the entire industry is gathered under one roof to marinate on the topic for a week.

This OR Show is all about public lands advocacy. And that’s kinda my jam.

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You, too, are stoked on public lands advocacy and want to get involved. How do I know this? Y’all have asked me a bazillion times in the last few weeks. Way jazzed on that, too. I’ve got a lot going on, my rad colleagues have a lot going on, and I figured I ought to just bring it all together in a quick guide to help you get activated around public lands and outdoor advocacy at Utah’s final Outdoor Retailer. Check it:

– Come to the RANGE Magazine issue launch at 4:30 on Wednesday (7/26) at the Ranger Station. The theme is “activate + organize” and I wrote a guide to outdoor advocacy that’ll be in the latest issue and heaps of rad industry folks have work in there too.

– Watch to my panel on outdoor advocacy and social media at 10:00 AM on Thursday (7/27). I’m moderating. Kenji Haroutunian, Caroline Gleich, Len Necefer from NativesOutdoors, Brody Leven (heeeey), and Land Tawney of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers are my panelists. Potential highlights include: conversations between my lifelong vegetarian boyfriend and the king of the hunting and fishing industry, asking Len about calling the industry out when we do things like appropriate, and me inevitably falling off my stool because I’m awkward in public. I’ll try to livestream this for anyone who isn’t attending OR! 

– Because you can never have enough panels, come to the When Women Lead discussion at 2:30, at The Camp, hosted by Wild Women’s Project and Coalition Snow.

– Join me, Hilary, The Wilderness Society and the storytellers community for a pre-march sign making rally at the Public Lands Action Center at 3:30 on 7/27. We’ll have supplies to put your march calls-to-action on cardboard–what’s a march without witty signs making a statement about our cause?–and The Wilderness Society will be on deck to chat about getting involved with advocacy. RANGE magazine is hosting one in the Venture Out pavilions too! There’s a Facebook event page here.  Also, if you have cardboard, I want it for our recycled sign making supplies, holla at me. 

MARCH WITH US. If you haven’t heard about the march for public lands yet, sheesh. At 4:30, we’re marching from the Public Lands Action Center rally–because obviously you’ll be there with me–through the Salt Palace, past downtown, all the way to Utah Capitol. We’ll hoist our signs, make a loud statement, gather on the lawn of the Capitol, and listen to powerful speakers during a rally about, well, our public lands. If you’re on social media, holla at #MarchForPublicLands.

– Attend the annual social media lunch on 7/28 at noon. I’m co-hosting with OIA, and we’re launching the Outdoor Advocate Network. It’s a powerful collective of the industry’s most impactful voices that want to do something about our industry’s biggest issues, and we’re going to empower you, and you def want to be involved. And free lunch, obvi–for the first 50 people. We’ll be networking after the event until 2:00, so come say hi even if you miss the actual lunch part. RSVP here (or if you want to get an update after the event if you can’t make it).

–I am mega stoked on this workshop: “(re)defining women in the outdoors.” It’s a little late on Friday, 3:30-4:30, at The Camp, but I think it’s going to be a good one. Read: “This interactive session is geared toward female and non-cis gender industry professionals who are excited to examine our (diverse) values and a develop a new vision for women in the outdoor industry.” Yaaaas. 

– Bonus points for early birds: If you’re into getting up before 8:00 AM, you should attend the breakfasts. At this year’s OIA Industry Breakfast, which basically kicks off the entire tradeshow, speakers include Alex Honnold, Cedar Wright, and the queen herself, Sally Jewell. I mean seriously, hello. I always cry during these breakfasts because I’m so moved by the energy (and also it’s so early in the morning and I’m extra vulnerable). Conservation Alliance is hosting one the next day, which you can learn about here.

– If you’re in town early: Go to Outsiders Ball! Totally qualifies as outdoor advocacy-related in my book because it’s a giant, wonderful fundraiser that supports Outdoor Foundation, which works to get youth out into nature. Party on, outdoorists. Then, go enjoy free drinks and at the official after party/climbing fundraiser for the American Alpine Club at Bodega.

See you all in SLC next week, my friends!

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We elected a climate denier, so now what? Roll up your sleeves for the outdoors

I’m still trying to digest the election. I’m still trying to make sense of it all. I wasn’t prepared for this–not at all. I see now that I had been living in a bubble of privilege and community that led me to the ignorant sureness that Trump could never become the leader of my country. It has been (and still is) a major adjustment to chew on.

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Photo: Jo Savage (@SavageDangerWolf)

I spent Election Day on the California coast, with my phone in airplane mode. I had emerged from camping in the redwoods that morning and thought to myself, “no sense in driving myself nuts with election coverage all day, I’ll just tune back in later tonight when Hillary takes it.” I was not prepared for what I saw when I finally turned on the television. I ended my day at a seaside hotel, cradled in a fancy bathrobe while crying over the unexpected future that had just been thrust upon me.

What happens now?

This new political climate we live in stretches so much further than the outdoor advocacy I’ve been focused on for the past few years. This brings back the other issues I used to fight for: gay rights and equality, women’s reproductive rights, immigration and refuges.

It’s overwhelming to think too hard about everything that is at stake now. I’ve witnessed a lot of turmoil, anguish, mourning, and heartbreak. Many of us needed to step back for a few moments of self-care, to pause for a moment and focus on self before diving in to care for others. The accompanying messages reminding friends to look out for themselves and remember that they are loved were some of the first glimpses of hope I saw emerge from the rubble.

In the last few weeks, I’ve seen the start of an uprising. We had our moment to be sad and upset, and now it’s time to move into action. My inbox has been flooded with messages asking me how to get involved, what organizations to support, what the outdoor industry is going to do. And not just a single moment of doing something–this is about adapting our lifestyle to accommodate the grit and tenacity needed to protect what matters.

To protect our public lands and the planet;
To protect our fellow Americans;
To protect women’s bodies;
To protect all the progress our country has made in the past decade.

We have questions. Where do we go from here? What is the first step? And the second, and the third? How can we protect the places we play? What do we say to our children? We can’t pretend this isn’t happening, so what do we do now?

There is much work to be done. And we have so much to give. But where to start? I think the first place is figuring out what issues matter the most to you. What do you want to pour your effort and energy into? Is it climate change, reproductive rights, youth homelessness, sustainability? How about leave no trace ethics, the immigration and refuge crisis, saving the bees, saving the glaciers? Maybe tackling racism, homophobia, and that whole white supremacy thing that just casually became acceptable again? Pick your battles, and then suit up. Dedicate yourself to them. 

And of course, the backbone of it all: building community. Where would we be without our brothers and sisters? Our fellow outdoorists, our neighbors, our family, the people we love and work with. Through all of this, remember the value of your community. Protect each other, support each other, care for each other, love each other fiercely.

Here are a few of the many ways to roll up your sleeves:

  • Give to the organizations you support. I’m guilty of not doing this–I’m a big advocate for organizations like Outdoor Alliance, Protect Our Winters, Sierra Club, and American Alpine Club, but I never give. I had a membership to AAC and the Southeastern Climbers Coalition, but they both lapsed. Now is the time to renew, to start giving what you can. This is the time to skip the daily latte and make contributions to the organizations representing your causes out on the front lines. You might think you can’t afford a $25 annual membership fee–but what you really can’t afford is losing access to public lands. Priorities, kids.
  • Start using your social channels for advocacy. Get vocal about the issues you care about. Amplify your allies, and support your community. Express your disappointment in elected officials who aren’t serving you.
  • Pick up the phone. I know, it’s intimidating–but it’s effective. Social media makes it easy to participate; I’ve seen multiple folks posting with specific instructions guiding you through the calling/survey process and how to leave messages for your representatives.

    Your voice is so important now, use it.

  • Keep an eye on OIA. Yes, I work with Outdoor Industry Association, so I’m biased–but the policy work OIA does affects every member of the outdoor community. And we’re going all in this year. There’s an incredible outdoor advocacy action center launching in 2017 that will be a vital resource in the fight for public lands and protecting the future of our industry. Listen to the post-election podcast.
  • Attend protests. March alongside your community. Make signs, sing chants, hold hands with strangers in the streets. Be present for the issues that matter to you. (I’ll see you at the SLC Women’s March on January 23rd–similar events are happening all over the country. Go to one.)
  • Go ask Erin Outdoors about working in a community kitchen to serve locally. Contributing locally is going to be a huge part of facilitating unity and remembering the light during periods of darkness. Volunteer at your local humane society, help weed your community garden, go to a trail day. These may not seem like political activism, but they’re an important part of the equation too.

It’s going to be a long, hard four years for environmentalists and outdoor advocates. We seriously just put a climate denier in the White House, and now we have to face the consequences. I never expected to be considering the possibility of putting myself on a Muslim registry to help protect my fellow Americans. I never expected to get calls from girlfriends urging me to get an IUD because I might soon lose rights over my own body. I never expected to see hateful racists having a moment of empowerment, crawling out of the pathetic caves from which they usually reside.

I never expected this outcome, but here it is. Here we are, in this new reality–and our only option is to fight. So let’s fight hard, together.

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The outdoor community must step up and become advocates & activists–NOW.

Yesterday in Salt Lake City, the EPA held a public hearing on the Regional Haze Rule (think: Clean Air Act). You know, the seemingly no-brainer effort to clean up the air around Utah and some of it’s most beautiful outdoor spaces.

It came across my desk from the OIA government affairs team as something we wanted to show some support for (again, no-brainer). When I was doing some social promotion around the event, I pictured a big rally of outdoor advocates all singing the praises of cleaner air and literally thought to myself, “I wonder how much of an impact this will make since it’s basically just going to be a big hoorah all from the outdoor community. Will the opposing side even notice that this hearing is happening?

I was incredibly, profoundly wrong in my assumption.

This is what outdoor athletes Caroline Gleich and Brody Leven experienced yesterday when they attended the meeting. Just hearing their stories digitally was enough for me to wake up and snap to attention. This is not the scene I had envisioned in my head:

On the front lines today with @brodyleven at the EPA public hearing about regional haze in Utah’s national parks. It seems like all of Carbon County fit in two busloads to represent the interests of the coal power plants. We felt like the underdogs. The outdoor/tourism industries were seriously underrepresented. I’ve never been so nervous to speak in front of a group. When I started speaking, I could feel the hostility in the air. But I shared my story and the facts. Utah’s outdoor recreation and tourism industries bring in $12.2 billion dollars per year. It’s important to clean up the air around the parks and reduce the emissions from coal burning power plants. When I was done, hardly anyone clapped. We need to get more young people and outdoor people to come to these things. We need to make signs and speak up. It’s our air and our future. It’s scary and not always fun, but it’s hugely important to protect the quality of life and the Utah we love. At the end, I gave the coal miners a smile and a wave. I came to realize our goals aren’t that different. We are both trying to protect our livelihood- our jobs and the lifestyle we know. It’s just the path to the future that we disagree on. #cleanair4utah @protectourwinters @healutah @sierraclub

A photo posted by Caroline Gleich (@carolinegleich) on

As it turns out, the pro-coal attendance far overwhelmed the presence of outdoor advocates. Folks from Carbon County (yes, that’s really the name of the county) were actually shuttled to Salt Lake City by the busload to make sure the coal industry was heard loud and clear. Inside the building, the hearing was packed with these representatives, and Brody observed that there were hundreds more rallying outside as well. Brody told me they basically had to sneak into the event. He saw signs that said “Fossil fuels are beautiful.” When Caroline finished her testimony about the importance of cleaning up the air around Utah’s beautiful outdoor spaces and protecting the health of the state’s community, she noted that hardly anyone clapped.

That scene is embarrassing. Look at the statistics for the outdoor industry: we generate $646 billion in consumer spending annually, and create 6.1 million direct jobs. That’s 6.1 million people whose livelihood is connected to the health of our outdoor spaces. In Utah, at least 82% of residents participate in outdoor recreation each year. So where were we during yesterday’s hearing? Why wasn’t there a loud and proud standing ovation when Caroline concluded her speech?

And none of this includes the much more obvious fact: this isn’t just about our parks, this is about the air you breathe every single day. In parks, in cities, everywhere. This is about the air you breathe, the air your families breathe, the air that future generations will be breathing.

Image via Unsplash

Do I have you riled up yet? Good. Here’s a place to start taking action: You can submit formal comment on this Clean Air Act until 3/14/16.

The outdoor community needs to do more than just love our outdoor spaces: we need to become strong advocates and activists for the issues that affect our industry. Not just clean air, but on a laundry list of initiatives that need our support, from the Land and Water Conservation Fund to wildfire funding. And don’t even get me started on the public lands heist.

If you truly care about the places you play, you need to do something about it. Posting beautiful Instagrams of Arches National Park won’t mean anything when the air there makes you ill, and saving up for months to buy a new ice axe won’t matter when global warming means your favorite routes never get cold enough to freeze. When your favorite forest burns to a crisp because you didn’t speak up about the importance of wildfire funding–that’s all on you. Sign those petitions, they matter. E-mail, call, and tweet your representatives–they’re listening. Attend community events, share these issues on social media, support organizations like Outdoor Alliance and Protect Our Winters.

The outdoor community has such potential to be so strong and so loud and so impactful–let’s make that happen together.

Disclaimer: Opinions here are my own and are in no way affiliated with OIA. But if you want to learn more about OIA’s stance on this issue, check out this recreation alert. For more on OIA’s climate change policy, read more here

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It’s Official: I’m a Speaker at the Peak’s Foundation Women’s Leadership and Adventure Summit

Throughout my personal journey as female adventurer, there have been many moments of both empowerment and doubt. Am I really putting myself out there? Is my story something people really want to hear? Does this one-woman trek through life and the outdoors truly matter? Sometimes, the questioning is relentless – but every once in a while, there comes a moment that confirms to me that yes, it’s all worth it.

I am beyond proud to announce that I was asked by the Peaks Foundation to be a speaker at their annual Women’s Leadership and Adventure Summit conference in Golden, CO on July 10-13th!

The WLAS ’14 event is an incredible weekend designed to bring 50 women together for three days of personally challenging adventure activities, engaging speaking sessions from 9 successful outdoor women, and building inspired connections with fellow females who seek adventures beyond four walls. There will be yoga in the mornings, cocktails in the evenings, and a jam-packed schedule that offers women a chance to experience their choice of climbing, trekking, fly-fishing, paddle-boarding, slacklining, and more. Womens summit-usa-print

My 45-minute speaking session has been dubbed The Year of The Van: Roadside Lessons on Personal Empowerment & Building a One-Woman Brand. I have so much work ahead to transform my presentation into a tool to motivate women to find their own adventure (both on the road and through social media), but here’s a quick overview: “Spending 365 days living in a van and traveling across the country on a climbing trip offers more than just insights on adventure – it gives us the experiences and tools necessary to inspire ourselves and others to reach higher towards success in all aspects of life.

Applications have officially opened for WLAS ’14, and I would love to see some of my readers at the event. Women are invited to apply now through June 1st, but only 50 women will be accepted to the summit – so APPLY NOW!

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Help save the future of the historical Matheson Hammock in Miami, Florida

My childhood was built on bike rides through mangroves, picnics beneath an old limestone fort, sandy sunning along a coast inlet, and boating excursions – all enjoyed at Matheson Hammock Park & Marina. One of the outdoor staples residents of ritzy South Florida, this slice of nature offers an escape from the surrounding mansions and 5 o’clock traffic jams along Old Cutler. For now.

The sanctutary (for humans and wildlife alike) at Matheson Hammock is gravely endangered.

It recently came to light that Miami-Dade County awarded a private company the rights to construct an enormous 5-story boat warehouse in the park – and the folks who cherish Matheson simply won’t have it. Obviously thinking with their calculators instead of their souls, the county selfishly allowed for a potentially disastrous edifice to be built.

Why is this boat warehouse such a horrible idea? Well aside from the giant eyesore that will forever change the skyline, this facility will have a monstrous impact on the community and park. The once peaceful destination will become crowded with traffic to and from the storage warehouse, and if you’ve ever taken a drive down Old Cutler at rush hour, you know how torturous congestion is on those roads. Not to mention the noise pollution, the potential for run-off and introducing harmful chemicals into a delicate ecosystem.

As a park enthusiast, I am outraged by the idea of my beautiful mangrove landscapes becoming defaced by a looming structure, and I am livid at the thought of my favorite raccoon family slurping on water tainted by the extra pollution introduced by the warehouse and extra flock of boats within. As a boater, I can’t even fathom the idea of the marina becoming any more crowded than it already is on any given sunny morning. I have to wonder if those in favor of this storage facility have ever been to the park on a warm Saturday – do they really think there is capacity for more people/boats?

So what can you do to save Matheson Hammock Park?

First, and foremost, you can sign the petition against the boat warehouse. Then, you can share it with all your friends. While the City of Coral Gables is infamous for making any home renovation permits a nightmare, it’s also well-known for it’s excellent history of listening to the people. Unlike the county, the city is truly concerned for the welfare and well-being of its residents. Contact the City of Coral Gables, and let them know how you feel about the future of Matheson Hammock.

You can also ‘like’ “Save Our Matheson Hammock Park” on Facebook, so you can keep up with all the updates and happenings. Finally, you can watch and share this video, which provides an excellent view of the park, and illustrates why Matheson is such a vital lifeline for our community and environment:

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/35111675]

Still not convinced? Check out this blog for ten photographic reasons to save Matheson Hammock.

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5 Ways to Celebrate La Madre Tierra for Earth Day!

Looking for a way to pay homage to the beautiful planet that so kindly houses you, feeds you, waters you and creates boulder formations for you to climb? – Consider one of these five ways to say ‘thanks’ to nature on Earth Day.

1. Plant something. The possibilities here are really endless. Plant a tree, take a cue from my neighbor and plant some dainty flowers, or get creative. Eatin’ a pineapple or avocado? You can plant ’em! I currently have a pineapple head and a sprouting avocado pit basking in the sunshine on my patio. Good for the earth, and an entertaining little project. Stick a few tooth picks into the pit, prop it up in a little cup and fill it with water until the base is nicely situated in liquid. Voila!

2. Feed the critters! It is no secret that I am obsessed with my little creature buddies. Birds, squirrels, raccoons – I love ’em all. Making bird-feeders is a quick and fun way to celebrate Earth Day. Check out my how-to make a bird feeder using recycled products, or go old school with a simple feeder made by rolling pine cones in peanut butter. Hang it by your window and you’ll have entertainment all day long, like the time the Squirrel Bandit parkoured his way up to my feeder..

3. Pick up some trash. There is no shortage of litter in this world, and there’s no better day to tote a plastic bag around and fill it with the rude garbage that clutters the earth. I’ll be collecting trash around Tally Rock Gym today after I volunteer a belay party, so feel free to come join me.

4. Thank your farmers. Not exactly thanking nature, but today is a great day to appreciate the people that work hand-in-hand with the earth on a daily basis. Forgo the mass produced food that is processed using methods that create pollution and waste – stop by a farmers market (like the Thomasville Farmers Market, or the Pinecrest Farmers Market) or local grocer, and take a bite out of something good for your body, and good for your earth.

5. Take a hike! Or leisurely walk, or bike ride, or canoe ride. Get outside and revel in everything that the earth has provided for you. We spend too much time taking advantage of our resources, and not enough time appreciating our blessings. Head to a local park, make a drive to your favorite beach, canoe along a river – the ways to cherish the outdoors are endless, so stop making excuses.

Did I mention that these things are great activities for ANY day, not just Earth Day? This holiday aims to raise awareness about our need to give back to the earth, but you efforts to celebrate Mother Nature shouldn’t be reserved solely for April 22nd. Every day presents a prime opportunity to make a difference.

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