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REI: Within Reach

I've seen this video many times since it was uploaded in May but based on what I've been seeing and understanding as I dive deeper into climbing I feel the necessity to share it (again I think?). As I made the decision to limit my running, cancel all of my races, and focus on growth and strength; climbing has become more important. Climbing has become just as important in my life and well-being as running and art making have. Unfortunately, as I add a third activity to my ever expanding interests I see the same exact problems as I have in running and the arts. These problems being the unequal of various marginalized groups such as women, poc and lgbtq+. There is an apparent lack of an inclusive community often resulting in an unsafe or at least unenjoyable / patronizing environment for some (many) people. 

It is incredible to see the efforts of Flash Foxy taking effect and growing. They are far from resolving an age old problem but they are doing so much in creating an alternative community for women. I hope to see the climbing community grow into one cohesive and respectful family but I too would want a community consisting entirely of women to avoid the issues currently at hand. While I personally am trying to conceive of ways to be an effective ally (for this issue and many others) I am thankful that there is an ever-growing community for women and I am enthusiastic to witness its future. Lynn Hill was the first climber I ever heard of and today she along with Steph Davis are my favorite climbers of all time. Seriously. It is a ridiculous thought in my head that these two badass women (and all women climbers) are seen as less strong or inspiring.

I am also appreciative that REI had chosen to use their massive voice in the outdoor world and beyond to address these very issues. Being a cooperative, they have no shareholders to appease to and thus can follow a fairly progressive (why is inclusivity progressive?!) agenda and utilize their resources toward furthering the reach of many grassroots campaigns and organizations. They have campaigns tackling a variety of issues such as fair trade / labor, wider ranges of sizes for athletic clothing, and an effort to level the playing field for all marginalized groups. As a recent hire of the company, I feel proud to know that the people I work for / with share the same concerns in the same areas of my passions and interests. 

Climbing, running, and camping have changed my life just as much as art making has. They are all one cohesive lifestyle that exist with and rely on one another. It is sad that many people do not have the same resources as I, or do not feel like they can belong to these activities based on their gender, orientation or color. As my career in the outdoor industry (and the art world) unfolds I hope and will continue to work on personally pushing the boundaries and to use everything I've got to make sure that these life changing activities are truly for accessible and welcoming to all. 

I encourage you to address these issues too, in particular (what sparked this) if you see anything at a gym, crag, or online that evokes a sense of superiority, misogyny, or any harm to not let it go by.. do not ignore it! Address it! It is the least thing you can do and I see it as (y)our responsibility.