Let’s start at the beginning. Can you tell us a little bit more about WeGotNext?
WeGotNext scales stories from underrepresented communities in outdoor spaces. We do this through WeGotNext Ambassadors and their Ambassadorship, which runs in three-year terms. In the first year of the Ambassadorship, each ambassador will plan a project or expedition. In the second year, they will implement their projects. The final year will consist of the Ambassadors setting out on tour to share their stories with audiences that see themselves represented in the ambassadors and their stories. In addition, the third year will be overlapped with the first year of the upcoming cohort, implementing the “leadership sharing” into our programming.
What was the inspiration for the project and how did you get started?
I identify as a bi-racial, cis-male. My mother is Latina and my father, African American. Outside of family, most of my life has been immersed in white dominant culture. I rarely saw others who looked like me in the spaces I loved to be in, from professional, social, adventure, and recreation. As a result, regardless of the beautiful relationships built, I often felt like I didn't belong. This was and still is a familiar feeling shared amongst many underrepresented communities and individuals that participate outdoors today. I want to contribute to a culture where communities feel more connected to being outside, and a feeling of belonging elevates our experiences and love for the outdoors.
I worked with Patagonia for many years. While I was there, they failed to make any fierce commitments towards creating a more equitable culture in outdoor spaces. However, in my time there, I found community, a deep understanding of conservation/environmental work, and connectedness to being an "intersectional environmentalist" and activist. My work with Patagonia was highly influential in the founding of WeGotNext.