Back In Show Business

Back In Show Business

After more than a year of social isolation due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, our community of outdoor professionals is finally getting back together. Today I’m heading home after the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market where I spent a busy week of reporting on a few events meant to celebrate the continuing growth and prosperity of the outdoor recreation industry.

The week before many of us gathered at the first ever edition of The Big Gear Show in Park City, Utah. That incredible outdoor venue at the Deer Valley Ski Resort in perfect weather was a great reintroduction to actual human contact in a public setting. With excellent safety protocols in place to stop the spread of the Coronavirus at this invite-only event, more than 138 exhibitors, 421 retail personnel and 71 media folks mixed and mingled in this wonderful play space. With plenty of bikes, boats, boards, boots and backpacks to demo throughout the three-day celebration a good time was had by all.

I am particularly grateful to the cast and crew of the Eldorado Climbing Wall Company. Against the backdrop of their amazing new bouldering cave they provided the viewing room for a sneak-peek unveiling of the latest painting by Lamont Joseph White. This Park City artist was commissioned to create a portrait of Charles Madison Crenchaw, the first Black Climber to reach the summit of Denali, the highest peak in North America. At a happy-hour event co-hosted by the American Alpine Club, this work of art, along with other oil on canvas images featuring Black skiers, was on display to demonstrate the enduring legacy that people of color have inherited in the world of adventure sports.

My friends at Eldorado were also very kind to drive the painting from Utah to Golden, Colorado where it will ultimately be on display at the American Mountaineering Museum. Thanks guys!

Before the Crenchaw painting is installed at the museum, it was presented to industry again during the Outdoor Retailer Show. On Day One, at the Commons On Champa meeting space, across from the Colorado Convention Center, I’ll be hosted an amazing happy-hour event in partnership with our friends from the Next 100 Coalition Colorado, the Outdoor F.U.T.U.R.E. Initiative and the Outdoor Equity Grant Program Coalition. During this free event we shared local efforts in Colorado to expanddiversity, equity and inclusion industry-wide.

Our happy hour event welcomed many Black, Indigenous and people of color to celebrate the diversity of our industry

At our happy-hour event there was also an exciting announcement. My friend and colleague Phil Henderson was hand to announce the first all-Black climbing team who aims summit Mount Everest in 2022! Called the Full Circle Everest Expedition this remarkable group of athletes will make mountaineering history and inspire a new generation of young people to aspire to careers and lifestyles steeped in the world of adventure.

Throughout the week several Joy Trip Project inspired articles were published in the outdoor industry trade magazines.

Dare to Do Better ~ The Outside Business Journal

In this opinion piece I challenge the outdoor industry to take seriously the promises companies and organizations make to improve our record on DEI. Encouraged by the groundbreaking work of Teresa Baker and Chris Perkins, creators of the Outdoor Industry CEO Diversity Pledge, I am excited to see a lot of great changes taking place across the country. But I’m more than a little concerned that, despite all this progress we will allow this moment of social awakening to pass only to go back to business as usual. “You don’t just get to say, ‘Black Lives Matter.’ You don’t get to say you care about this work and then do nothing,” said Baker in an interview for this article. I want to see every institution in our community do more, much, much more.

Spanning The Gap ~ Outdoor Retailer Magazine

Earlier this summer the Greening Youth Foundation, based in Atlanta, Georgia, hosted a sensational new career development program called The Bridge Project. In this story I share reactions from both the organizers and participants who enjoyed a rewarding opportunity to boost the professional aspirations of young people just getting started in the business of environmental protection. “I was thinking professional development and networking, things like that,” said participant Bridget Arndell. “I didn’t think I’d get an actual job out of it.”

Something Yet Higher ~ The Outdoor Retailer Daily

I was able to share Lamont Joseph White’s wonderful work with a broad Outdoor Retailer audience with this cover story for the morning magazine on Day One.

Lamont White on the cover of the OR Daily

Welcome To The Future ~ The Outdoor Retailer Daily

James Edward Mills shares his parting words at the end of Outdoor Retailer 2021

Finally, I am so grateful to Perri O. Blumberg and Men’s Journal for adding my book “The Adventure Gap” to their list of travel books to “fuel your sense of adventure”. Even after 7 years in print I am always so honored to receive this kind of recognition for our collective work to elevate stories of Black joy in the outdoors. I look forward to announcing soon a new book project in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!