When you think of the outdoors and all activities associated with it, more than likely, you associate it with being traditionally white. The North Face is teaming up with some big names in hopes of changing this glaring issue.
Last fall, The North Face announced the launch of its Explore Fund Council, comprised of a group of experts, including Emmy-Award-winning writer/actor Lena Waithe, tasked with the mission of “increasing access to the outdoors and connecting diverse communities to the benefits of exploration.”
Now, The North Face is announcing the return of the council, led by Waithe with athlete and Academy Award-winning director Jimmy Chin who is also an ambassador for the iconic brand. The duo will work with the other council members “to break down barriers and celebrate all types of exploration.” Based on the recommendations of the council, $7 million in initial funding will be guided globally to help continue building equity in the outdoors while “connecting all people to the benefits of exploration, especially those more likely to live in nature-deprived neighborhoods.
The team individuals joining Waithe and Chin are leaders across culture, entertainment, academia, and the outdoors, all working towards a common goal “to broaden the definition of outdoor exploration.” The list includes:
- Dr. Rae Wynn-Grant, Wildlife ecologist and National Geographic Explorer – As an active scientist, Dr. Wynn-Grant spends long periods in the wilderness tracking and observing black and grizzly bears in the western United States and African lions in rural Kenya and Tanzania.
- José G. González, Founder and Director Emeritus of Latino Outdoors – González’s work focuses on Equity & Inclusion frameworks and practices in the environmental, outdoor, and conservation fields.
- Hakim Tafari, Cyclist, and Runner – Tafari works to bring certain mindfulness techniques to the running community. He is currently working on a documentary that will explore everything from running, mindfulness, veganism, and spirituality.
- Shanée Benjamin, Art Director and Illustrator – Benjamin is a queer art director and illustrator whose work is inspired by the vibrancy of Brooklyn, NY.
- Jody Potts, Gwich;’in Leader and Advocate – Potts is Han Gwich’in and an enrolled tribal member of the Native Village of Eagle. In early 2021, Jody and her two oldest kids founded a new organization called “Native Youth Outdoors,” which aims to get more Alaska Native Youth participating in outdoor recreation.
- Chris Dean, Memphis Rox Co-Founder, and Community Organizer– Dean’s hope for the future of rock climbing and other sports is to establish access and representation for more communities—creating diversity and opportunity.
- Liz Kleinrock, Educator, Lecturer, Speaker – Kleinrock is a Korean American transracial adoptee and works as an antibias and antiracist educator and writer for both young learners and adults.
- Myron Floyd, Outdoor Educator, Researcher, Lecturer – As Dean of the College of Natural Resources at NC State University, Floyd is widely recognized as a leading scholar focused on understanding race and ethnic patterns in outdoor recreation behavior.
Salute to The North Face.
Photo: The North Face / 2021 Explore Fund Council