Meet the future of the outdoor industry. These four have a fierce determination to create a new path forward for the outdoors, and they're doing it with a degree of awareness and intersectionality we've never seen before.
1. Outdoor education
Pinar Ates Sinopoulos-Lloyd, 30, co-founder of Queer Nature
Queer Nature, based in Nederland, Colorado, is a “queer-run nature education and ancestral skills program serving the local LGBTQ2+ community.” As a queer and trans person of color, Pinar found more connection and empowerment through time spent in nature than immersed in urban queer culture. So Pinar founded Queer Nature to provide space for people feeling similarly marginalized to find healing through wilderness self-reliance skills and ecological literacy.
As one of its participants notes, “Queer Nature has changed, shaped, and supported my life in profound ways. It’s given me a space for my queer soul-searching, which has given me health, passion, and purpose.”
Agnes Vianzon, 41, executive director of Eastern Sierra Conservation Corps
After experiencing firsthand the liberating and restorative powers of the wilderness on a 22-week backcountry trails program in Kings Canyon National Park, Agnes Vianzon was hooked. But the more she got outside (she worked for the National Park Service for five seasons), the more she realized that there’s not much diversity in the conservation world. So Agnes founded the Eastern Sierra Conservation Corps, “a development and leadership program committed to building a stronger and more inclusive community,” and created backcountry conservation opportunities specifically for women, people of color, and indigenous youth.
Accessibility is at the core of ESCC’s work, and Agnes is creating a direct pathway to the technical and leadership skills necessary to apply for entry-level corps, state, or federal positions. This provides an economic opportunity for underserved populations while also changing the faces we see wielding those Pulaskis.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 29, U.S. Representative of New York's 14th District
Already leveraging her new position as a Congresswoman behind “The Green New Deal,” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other like-minded representatives aim to cut U.S carbon emissions in accordance with the Paris Agreement and increase green energy jobs across the country.
The youngest woman ever elected to Congress and first woman of color to run in New York’s 14th district, Ocasio-Cortez walks the talk. From Flint, Michigan, to pipeline protests in North Dakota, she has a long record as an activist fighting for environmental justice. “Historically, people tend to think that the environmental movement is homogenous,” she said in a press conference at the Capitol after she won her seat, “[but] among black and Latino communities, rates of environmentalism and environmental beliefs are actually much higher than average.” Why? Because communities of color tend to experience the impacts of climate change first.
As an industry dependent on the conservation of natural spaces “AOC” could become one of our biggest allies in this fight.
Khristian Gilham, 25, apparel designer at Topo Designs
“There isn’t one type, and we don’t have to be one thing,” says Khristian Gilham of the “typical” Topo Designs consumer. That’s why she loves designing there. She’s had a hand in nearly every product from the Fall 2017 line onward, and is particularly proud of her Sherpa Jacket and Tech Trench 3L.
For Gilham, Topo Designs is the perfect balance of fashion and the outdoors. Because of this “fluidity,” Gilham believes Topo can reach a wider array of consumers and help the industry evolve the narrative of who does what outside. She also wants to see continued growth in sizing options that allow all people to feel and look good on their adventures.