Wild Ideas Worth Living Transcript: Rue Mapp

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[Music intro]

Shelby Stanger:               

This episode features Outdoor Afro founder Rue Mapp.

Welcome to Wild Ideas Worth Living, an adventure podcast presented by REI Co-op, the brand who helps get you outside through gear, glasses, and adventures. We talk to experts who have taken a wild idea and made it a reality so you can too. From people who have climbed the tallest peaks, started thriving businesses, and even broken records. Some of the wildest ideas can lead to the most rewarding adventures. I’m your host Shelby Stanger, and I hope you enjoy the show.

Some of you may have heard of Rue Mapp and Outdoor Afro. If not, you’re in for a treat. Rue started Outdoor Afro is a blog in 2009 and she’s grown it to become the nation’s leading nonprofit network that celebrates and inspires African American connections and leadership in nature. The nonprofit has nearly 80 leaders in 30 states from around the country. They’ve connected thousands of people to outdoor experiences who are changing the face of conservation and the face of who plays outdoors.

Rue herself is a force of nature. The mom of three is also an activist, a nature lover. She’s been invited to the White House to participate in huge conferences like America’s Great Outdoors Conference. She was part of a think tank for Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move initiative. She’s on the Outdoor Industry Association Board. And then 2014, she was appointed to the California State Parks Commission by California Governor Jerry Brown. Her work and op-eds had been featured everywhere from the Wall Street Journal and NPR, to Sunset and Ebony Magazines. What I like most about Rue in my quick hour of meeting her though, is this woman’s got will. She has this ability to connect and empower communities from across cultures and barriers, get them together. And she’s just real, and she has this amazing way of speaking, which is probably why she gets asked to speak all over the country. So diversity in the outdoors is a hot topic and it definitely was at the outdoor retailer show where we did this interview.

So in this episode, we talk about diversity in the outdoors, and who’s doing it well. You might be surprised at her answer. We also talk about how nature doesn’t discriminate no matter who you are. How she grew a huge community. So if you’re looking to grow community, this is a great episode. We talk about the power of relationships, and how to make your wild idea a reality. Enjoy.

All right. Welcome to Wild Ideas Worth Living. Rue, we’re excited to have you on.

Rue Mapp:                       

Thank you so much for having me.

Shelby Stanger:               

Well, you are just a ball of energy. Rue’s got these beautiful orange earrings. She just looks so fabulous. So I just want to start, a lot of people listening don’t know what Outdoor Afro is. It’s an awesome name, and the logo is really cool. Can you just tell us a little bit about what it is and when it started?

Rue Mapp:                       

Sure. Outdoor Afro started off as a blog, a passion back in 2009 when I just decided that I wanted to experience more people who looked like me in the outdoors and talk about why I love the outdoors. And just being sick of being the only one on backpacking trips and camping trips when I joined with various clubs over the years. I wanted more people to experience the benefits of the outdoors, and the joy of the outdoors.

Because we weren’t in the Backpacker Magazines of the world, right? I didn’t see people who look like me, and I started this blog and something really miraculous happened. People from all over the country, and this is really at the dawn of social media as well. They raised their digital hands and said, “Me too, I love nature too.” And I realized that we had a visual representation problem. And when you put all the people who thought they were the only ones together, we were actually quite numerous.

So it evolved from this blog to a community, and now we are a national not-for-profit network that has 80 people who we’ve trained in 30 states who are leading and curating these fabulous outdoor experiences every single weekend around the country. And the network is now about 35,000 people. People, their lives have been transformed in ways I could have never imagined.

Shelby Stanger:

Give me some examples.

Rue Mapp:                       

Well we’ve got the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker who are Outdoor Afro leaders. We’ve got people who are human rights attorneys, architects, real estate professionals, grandparents, military vets, preschool teachers. All of these people who never really saw themselves as outdoor leaders. Right? They didn’t take a month long experiential course. They are not like the typical bros you see in the mainstream magazine. These are the folks who have this fire in their belly to connect people to nature. And we just give them a little push and a little support, some gear, some risk management practices. And they’re off.

Shelby Stanger:               

And they take others hiking?

Rue Mapp:                       

All kinds of activities. So anything from orchard fruit picking to back country, backpacking to family picnics, to car camping, Whitewater rafting, you name it.

Shelby Stanger:               

Can we do surfing?

Rue Mapp:                       

Everything. The thing that’s so cool is we’ve conservation ethic into everything that we do, and history. So it’s not that we’re just going out there. And we’re looking at the history of people, the history of wildlife, of the geology. So people are getting this really well rounded education at the same time they’re getting their best life in nature.

Shelby Stanger:               

So we just went from this wild idea and he started a blog and now it’s huge and you’ve been to the White House, and there’s people that have climbed Kilimanjaro on behalf of Outdoor Afro. How did that happen?

Rue Mapp:                       

Well, I mean I got this random email one day back in 2010 that said the White House cordially invites you. And I’m thinking cordially invites you to weigh in on healthcare, or make a donation. This is like the Obama social media presence-

Shelby Stanger:               

From your blog or your social media?

Rue Mapp:                       

Yeah so someone in the Department of Interior had found me online, and said that I had to be at this conference that was all about America’s great outdoors and bringing professionals from around the country, leaders of industry from around the country to talk about how the outdoors could be more relevant. So little old me from my kitchen table blogging, was suddenly at the White House to witness President Obama signing a historic memorandum. And then fast forward to today, we have with these capstone trips that the leaders decide they want to do every year. And we’ve done Mount Whitney, we’ve done the AT. And this year they just decided to go all in and go to Tanzania, and they trained for a year for Kilimanjaro. And they just came back and I’m so thrilled here at the outdoor retail show. We’ve got a few of the climbers who successfully summited here to tell their story.

And we had so much support from our partners to make that happen. And that story just keeps unfolding. So we have major mainstream pickup of it.

Shelby Stanger:

ABC News.

Rue Mapp:

Yeah. ABC News picked that up and, and it’s just felt really good to be able to … Again, these are people who did not envision themselves as mountaineers, right? And climbing the largest freestanding mountain is-

Shelby Stanger:

What do these people look like? Since this is a podcast, people aren’t able to see. Just maybe describe, where are these people? Who are they?

Rue Mapp:

These are people who range in age from 25 to 60 plus, right? So there’s an AARP story in there, there’s a military veteran in that, there’s an advocate for diversity and the outdoors in that. These are people who of course are in relative good shape, but they’re not going to the Olympics anytime soon, right? They had to put in the work to prepare themselves, and it doesn’t even matter when you’re on a mountain, altitude will strike anyone no matter what their physical condition is.

Shelby Stanger:

And no matter what their color is.

Rue Mapp:

And no matter what their color is. Right. And these are all African Americans. And the thing that was so cool about this, this was not something that a white organization said, “Hey, we’re gonna do this like PR stunt and send these black people on this mountain.” This is from the office to the climbers, to the porters, to the instructors. All black.

Shelby Stanger:

Wow.

Rue Mapp:

Yeah. Black, black, black, black, black.

Shelby Stanger:               

You guys have to meet Rue. She is a force of nature. I love it.

Rue Mapp:                       

And it was just, and I say that-

Shelby Stanger:               

Blackety, black, black. I just feel I love that you have a sense of humor and you’re so inclusive in how you approach this topic right now.

Rue Mapp:                       

Yeah. Well I just think that sometimes, the specific is universal. I think people get annoyed and offended when we’re talking in these really general, collegial, feathery touch style of describing people, and walking on eggshells. I just feel like it’s okay to call things out and be specific because, just because you’re focused doesn’t mean that you’re exclusive. You know? And I feel like if I call out the patch in the quilt that we are, it doesn’t make any of the other patches that were connected to less.

They’re different, right? And we are all connected. We’re connected to land, we’re connected to our history, we’re connected to one another. And that’s been a huge part of why this work has become so important to me, and I feel to the world. Because we now need connection more than ever. And when you go to nature, the trees do not know you’re black. The birds do not know how much money’s in your account, the flowers don’t know what gender you are. And so it’s like getting a break, and a bit of a rest from the isms. And when you’re out there with people, it doesn’t matter what their hue is. We are all human beings, right? So when I’m camping in the Arctic and a bear comes into camp, they don’t care. The bear doesn’t care.

And this happened, actually. I was in the Arctic refuge a couple of years back and we had to really come into camp. That was my hard reset on my humanity. I was like, “I am not at the top of the food chain. How I fold my socks at home does not matter in this moment.” And so I just feel like we spend so much time these days on differentiating ourselves and distancing ourselves, and nature has a way of bonding us together in the right way.

Shelby Stanger:

I love that. So when was your first experience in nature, that you remember?

Rue Mapp:                       

Oh my gosh, my whole life has been. You and I are from the generation of getting outside and playing every single day, right? Riding our bikes. Can’t wait to get outside, parents locking us out of the house just to be outside. Right? So getting into nature was not like a programmatic moment, right? Where someone had rescued me from the hood, and then took me to the mountains and my life was changed. That’s not my story. But my family had a ranch in Lake County, and it was a place of wonder, of tranquility, of freedom and celebration. So we had people up all the time, and we were always putting on these fun talent shows, and going on hikes, and riding our bikes, and spending time in the creek collecting pollywogs. Just super natural part of my childhood. And I did not know how special that was until I got older and realized that not everybody had that kind of a background. But we had cows and we had pigs, we hunted, we fished.

Shelby Stanger:               

Where did you grow up?

Rue Mapp:                       

I grew up in Oakland, California, but my parents had this second home which was a ranch about 100 miles away. And so it was pretty much every other weekend and then longer stretches in the summertime when we would spend time in this place. So that really set the tone for two things. Connecting to nature, and then hospitality in nature. So I was able to see how my parents welcomed people into that space, and how adults and children that would remark on how quiet it was or the stars they could see, or how fresh the air was. People who lived in very urban areas were able to come there and experience the kind of relief that brought them joy and gave them a recharge. So I kept that thread going that, that thread of nature and hospitality as a girl scout and then I was an Outward Bound student and just continued to scaffold over time and build this relationship to nature. And that’s how Outdoor Afro came to be. It came to be out of that passion for nature, that passion for community. It’s transforming people’s lives.

Shelby Stanger:               

So I just want to understand, you manage so many people, you’re so in demand right now. What are some of the tools and tactics you use to stay sane? Because I think a lot of people right now go to you as, “We need diversity in outdoors. Let’s go to Rue.”

Rue Mapp:                       

Yeah. It’s a pretty interesting time. It’s like the buzzword of-

Shelby Stanger:

Is it annoying moment or is it-

Rue Mapp:                       

Well it’s not my thing. And I had to make that decision pretty early in Outdoor Afro’s development as an organization. Are we here to help solve this problem, or are we here to get black people outside? That was the a really important and defining moment for our work, because Outdoor Afro has never had a diversity problem. Right? And people see the outcome of Outdoor Afro and naturally want to have similar outcomes. But for me, it all boils down to be, do, have. I can’t give you the one, two, three steps to be just like Outdoor Afro, to be just like any number of organizations. If you be diverse, right? If you be of the community, if you live in that community. And I feel like change only happens at the speed of relationships. I feel like this world has been so oriented around transactional and optic goal relationships, that we now find ourselves looking not like America, right? Because we have not taken the time to get to know people and to ask people what they want. The only way that Outdoor Afro has grown is because we have been just super high touch with our community.

Listening on the ground make. When people said me back in the blog days, “Hey it’s great that we have this blog. It’s wonderful to have all this great visual representation, but I want to find my tribe where I live.” And that’s when the Outdoor Afro leadership team was built. And that was 11 people who said yes, from a call on social media if they could be an Outdoor Afro leader. And I didn’t know what the heck I was doing. I just wanted to download everything that I had learned into this group of people and pull our partners together. We had REI on board from the very beginning. I’m just literally in like the parking lot of the job I had just == pitching this idea.

Shelby Stanger:

What were you doing?

Rue Mapp:                       

At the time, I was working as a program officer for a foundation that was getting money into the field to help youth get outdoors.

Shelby Stanger:               

So you had really good background for this.

Rue Mapp:                       

Yeah. It was great to actually have the survey perspective, to see so many different programs, to read about these programs, to see what their budgets looked like, and be able to see where the gaps and opportunities were for Outdoor Afro. And really from the start, see how how you could be more authentic in this work. And so that experience did give me more of a razor focus on how to execute in this work.

So I was like talking to partners, literally back of a cocktail napkin plotting out this idea of Outdoor Afro leaders. And partners like REI who is now our official outdoor retailer for Outdoor Afro. Keen Shoes who has just slayed it for us around gear and equipment, and they do some really great work around advocacy and public lands that for us has become more important too because we want the places to stay around.

Shelby Stanger:

Yeah. You want to be able to pass it onto your kids, your grandkids. Future generations.

Rue Mapp:

Exactly. Our partners have been phenomenal in helping us to use our voice, as well as provide the financial, and mentorship. So those partners came on early and really helped to inform and shape what we now have today as the Outdoor Afro leadership team. And as I mentioned, they’ve grown to 80 people, and those 80 people are in 30 states. I have a team now. I actually manage a team that oversees the partnerships as well as the program. And now I’m freed up to have conversations like this. As well as think about the strategy and vision of the organization.

Shelby Stanger:

Do you have any tools and tactics, management style that really helped you?

Rue Mapp:

Again, it’s about having relationships with people and being able to have fun. I hold our work to a very high standard of excellence and professionalism, while at the same time holding a lot of humor and a lot of recognition of great work.

We’re not for profit, but I take the time to honor our Outdoor Afro leader of the year, our partner of the year. I just feel like people just want to be heard, and people want to be recognized. It’s not a manipulative move, but it comes from a very genuine place. And what we get back is so much more than what we invest when we get that relationship piece right.

Shelby Stanger:               

So what I heard you say is you give a lot?

Rue Mapp:

Yes.

Shelby Stanger:

And in turn, you end up getting a lot.

Rue Mapp:

I get back more than I give. People are like, “Oh my God, Rue. You just so crazy busy.” And I’m like, “No, there’s nothing crazy year.” And I don’t use the b-word. Everything is in choice. I choose everything I chose to be with you today. I chose it. And so in that way Outdoor Afro gives me back way more than I put out because I’m choosing everything and I’m not being drug along by my hair across the stage in order to perform.

Shelby Stanger:

I love just two things. One that you don’t use the b-word in that context. I think that’s beautiful. I try not to say I’m busy. It’s just the worst.

Rue Mapp:

But think about when people say, “Oh my God, I’m so busy.” It’s like a wall.

Shelby Stanger:

It’s a wall.

Rue Mapp:

It’s like, “Okay, I’m so busy.” Everybody’s busy, everybody’s got stuff to do. And it’s all relative. Right?

Shelby Stanger:

But the other thing you do is you use humor to break down walls, which I feel like we’re in this time. I was just talking to two guys downstairs and they’re afraid to say the word find your tribe. Or they said accidentally, that’s so ghetto. They didn’t say it in a mean context, but they’re terrified to even talk to a girl or they were terrified to give me a hug. They went and tried to shake my hand. I’m like, “Dude, I don’t do that. I give hugs.” How can we use humor as well to just become closer together?

Rue Mapp:

Well, I think we’ve had so much divisiveness, and social media unfortunately has been a big part of this. You’re so right in that we have lost our humor. We have lost our ability to enjoy each other, right? And learn from each other. And this is the MeToo time. People are losing their careers behind saying things, doing things, and sometimes completely justified. I feel like we do have to not give up everything behind these very public cases where people have definitely acted badly.

And that’s why nature for me is so important because it really gives us this break to be human, and not worry so much about all of the isms and all of the stigmas. It’s just this great equalizing platform. And we know in addition to the relationships, we need joy. That’s why I mean Outdoor Afro, we’ve said that we’re doubling down on black joy. We have seen so many police involved shootings over these last few years on social media, and it just can crush your spirit and make us suspicious of our neighbor, of law enforcement as a whole even.

And so one of the things that Outdoor Afro did in response to that was healing hikes. I was like, “You know what, I’m not going to take to the streets on this one. I’m going to take to nature.” And I called our network of people who were local to me in Oakland and we went into the Oakland hills, and we did some yoga and tension setting exercises. And as we were going down into that Redwood Bowl, there’s this stream trail that we were going along together. And as we were walking on this trail, I could just feel like all the stress just like melting off people, and we were listening to each other and we were expressing our diverse opinions about what was happening in the world. I knew that that was not ever going to be possible in the hard landscapes of a downtown Oakland at that time with helicopters overhead and police in riot gear. And then the epiphany I had out of that experience was really powerful in that we were doing what African Americans have always known we could do.

And that was to lay down our burdens down by the riverside. And that to me was the moment that I realized the healing potential of the work of Outdoor Afro. And that’s what my drum be has been. It has been a tool to help me find connection with people to help them feel safe to be themselves. Because it’s not just a group of black people, it’s a lot of diversity within the diversity. It’s nuanced. Right? And I feel like we’ve lost not only that way to connect with people and an easy way, but there’s so much more I feel a nuance that we need to place our attention on these days more than ever before.

Shelby Stanger:

What do you mean by that?

Rue Mapp:

Well, things are just not black and white all the time.

Shelby Stanger:

Yes. Okay. I understand.

Rue Mapp:

Just because you say I’m going to go find my tribes, that mean you are a what? It just means you said that. We are quick to put meaning and definition, hard angles on things all the time. And I’m trying to free myself and free our organization up to be gentle in this world, with ourselves and with one another.

Shelby Stanger:

I love that. We’re going to take a quick break to hear from our sponsors. When we come back, we talk about this amazing tattoo Rue has, what it means for life. How to get over self doubt, your wild idea and make it happen. So stay tuned.

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[Interview starts]

So we talked a little a little bit earlier about who’s doing it well, who is doing … There’s this diversity tagline, buzzword that’s going around. I think the outdoor industry is really trying hard to do it, and some people are really confused. Some are doing it okay. Some are not doing it well. But I think at least they’re talking about it. In the mainstream though, what brands are doing this well?

Rue Mapp:                       

Yeah. You really want to know?

Shelby Stanger:               

Yeah I really want to know. Even though it’s probably going to be brands I, yeah let’s go.

Rue Mapp:                       

All right. No endorsement meant here. But Coca Cola is doing it well.

Shelby Stanger:

Yeah. They sponsored my college.

Rue Mapp:

McDonald’s is doing it well.

Shelby Stanger:               

Yeah.

Rue Mapp:

Since I was a child they have, and if you want to see examples of this-

Shelby Stanger:

Coca Cola is in Atlanta. That’s a pretty progressive town, and they’ve always been pretty sensitive to that.

Rue Mapp:

If you watch any, all you have to do, and I would love people in the industry, outdoor industry to do this. Watch some black programming sometimes and see who plays those commercials in those shows. And see how the tone, the tenor, the actors. See how that’s put together for a very specific demographic and to appeal to a very specific demographic within the viewership of these shows. Right? But you’re going to consistently, and I have throughout my whole life. I’ve consistently seen McDonald’s commercials, Coca Cola commercials with black people in them doing blackety, black, black, black things. And it’s not appropriation. It’s like, “I see myself using that brand. That brand understands my culture. That brand understands the things that I value, and boy does that burger look tasty and I’m going to get one next time I drive past McDonald’s,” or whatever.

They have found a very seamless way that they’re not, I know they’re not having diversity and inclusion questions. I don’t think it’s a matter of if, it’s how. And I think that that’s where the industry needs to wind up. It needs to be at the how and not, “Should we? Should we not.” And again, it really comes down to building those relationships with people who don’t look like you, because I find that in the industry, there’s a couple of things in play. There are people who work with the people that they play with, the people that they expedition with, the people who they … And people move from company to company to company. Right? And so there’s this insularity where it’s like you see the same people. People have been coming to the show, they see the same people for years and years and there’s no new friends here.

And I’m so glad to see that there are more folks who are learning about this industry who did not know, “I did not know this industry even existed.” So it’s not done as good of a job getting in front of people in a everyday and mainstream way, even though people are rocking the gear for style purposes, right? Wearing a North Face jacket or a Patagonia jacket and when you were in high school, that’s a status symbol. It doesn’t mean that you’re going to get on a mountain ever. So I feel like there’s been some missed opportunities for some of the brands to cash in on their popularity on the ground, and on the street, that now is becoming more more important for the sustainability of the business.

Shelby Stanger:               

I’m looking at your tattoo right now. Maybe just walk us through it. It’s beautiful.

Rue Mapp:                       

Well, it’s my midlife tattoo, midlife crisis tattoo.

Shelby Stanger:

You’re not midlife.

Rue Mapp:

Yeah. I’m definitely in the third quarter.

Shelby Stanger:

What?

Rue Mapp:

Yeah.

Shelby Stanger:

You look really good.

Rue Mapp:

Well thank you. Thank you. It feels like, it’s getting better. It’s getting better. I have three kids. I have a 21 year old, a 16 year old, and a 15 year old. And they’re getting up and out. I have a dog, a pit bull named Lulu. I’ve got a great man in my life. It’s a good time.

Shelby Stanger:

So this tattoo-

Rue Mapp:

Oh yeah back to the tattoo.

Shelby Stanger:

Is the Outdoor Afro Logo.

Rue Mapp:

Well, yeah, it’s the Outdoor Afro logo and it was my coming of age. Because I’d never gotten a tattoo before because I never quite knew why I was on the planet and I didn’t want any symbols that would not be relevant 10 years later. So I never got any tattoos. And this symbolizes all the parts of who I am. And Outdoor Afro for me allows me to be all the parts of who I am. It allows me to be a mother, it allows me to be a smarty pants, a public speaker, a writer. Someone who loves nature, technology, building community. And so the tattoo, yes this is the logo and I can describe it. The logo is a silhouette of a gender neutral person with an Afro. And inside of it is the outline of a tree, and the tree resembles brain matter with the actual trunk, could be representing the cerebral cortex. This endless connection.

Shelby Stanger:

That’s awesome.

Rue Mapp:

And it was designed for me by Jeremy Collins, who is a friend of everyone. We had a logo that was super cute. It was kind of a caricature of me, and it was for the blog. And we are Keen ambassadors together, and Keen does a great job of putting together the ambassadors for retreats and just giving us a chance to get to know each other and support each other’s work. And so after learning about Outdoor Afro, he was like, “Dude, your logo is fine. But it doesn’t really represent who you really are.” And I was like [inaudible 00:30:59]. Okay. This is personal. And then almost a year later, he just came back with like something super close to what we see right now. And my jaw dropped. I was like, “Oh, hello lover. This is the shiznit. This is everything.”

So we just did a slight revision, slight revision and we’ve been going with that, and everybody really likes it and I like it. And its suitable to be a tattoo because of all the reasons I described.

Shelby Stanger:               

I like it. Jeremy, I’m going to hit you up to redesign Wild Ideas Worth Living next years. If you could throw any party Rue, we ask all our guests this, but I just want to know the party you throw, what we’re eating, who’s playing.

Rue Mapp:

Oh wow. Gosh. Well, I would bring my parents back. My parents are no longer living, and a huge part of this work for me is them continuing to live in my life through the values. So I would definitely bring them back. I would probably have a salon style. We’d have Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, and a Langston Hughes in a corner and having a debate.

I’d probably be sitting on the porch with Sojourner Truth picking her brain on marketing because she was such an amazing marketer for her time. Using photography to tell her story and raise money at the time when that technology was new, as social media was new to me. I’d have Prince playing though.

Shelby Stanger:

This sounds like an epic party.

Rue Mapp:                       

Yeah. And we would have anything on the table from sushi to soul food, because that to me, that’s my California. That’s the diversity of taste that I have for food. And then I probably would have Michelle Obama over just for cocktails. She just seems like she wouldn’t sit still for a long time. She’d be on her way to something else. But I really feel like I could bring together this whole legacy of African American characters along with my closest friends and family, and maybe through conversation, and music, and food, plot a better future.

Shelby Stanger:

I love it. Any books or gear that you recommend, like must haves? Combined both.

Rue Mapp:

Wow. I think any reusable container for liquids is … I like Klean Kanteen and that’s my jam. They’re one of our partners and they are the ones who educated me a lot on where plastic actually ends up, and it does not end up and as a reusable something downstream, it actually ends up in the ocean in many cases. Shockingly. So I am a big fan of reusable anything for liquids. For books, there’s a couple of books that I’ve enjoyed that really speak to a way of living. So the four agreements is one that I love to share with people because it just gives you a very simple, elegant principles to live your life in a way that’s with the least amount of drama, and with the most amount of joy.

And there’s another book that inspired me called By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept by, oh gosh. Oh gosh. Paulo Coelho.

Shelby Stanger:

Okay. Paulo Coelho.

Rue Mapp:

Who also wrote The Alchemist. Yeah. It’s not the whole book that I love, it was this one passage on wasted life and it was really called me forth to make sure that I didn’t give up on this dream of Outdoor Afro because it felt unsafe, because the money wasn’t there. That there would be one day if I was so lucky that I would look back, because everybody looks back. And at that moment when you realize that miracles are possible, your magic moments will have passed you by.

Shelby Stanger:

Let’s talk about this really quickly, because I think everybody here has a wild idea and they’re listening and they want to do it, but there’s some self-doubt and fear that hits everyone at some point. How do you deal with it and what advice can you give others?

Rue Mapp:

That time is gonna pass anyway. A year is going to pass. Two years is going to pass, 10 years, 20 years is going to pass. Anyway. But what you do in those increments of time is a choice. And we all have choice. There are no guarantees, but we still have choices. You can have a job that feels really safe and secure. And I’m not saying that everybody that has a wild hair idea needs to jump on it, or doesn’t need to do their research, right? But I do know that at some point, you do have to give yourself over to your dreams and give yourself completely over to them. And it is an act of faith. And I know that in my case, it was stepping out. Every time I stepped, the net did appear. I didn’t know that it would happen, but it did.

And faith is like a muscle. The more you exercise that muscle of faith, the more tolerant you are of taking risks, taking chances. So build your faith muscle. Don’t be afraid of being your whole self. And realize that there are no guarantees, but you absolutely still have choices within every opportunity before you. Yeah, I guess that’s pretty much all I can offer that’s informed by what my experience has been.

Shelby Stanger:

This has been such a pleasure Rue. Where can we find out more?

Rue Mapp:

Outdoorafro.com. Outdoor Afro across all social. I’d love to hear from everyone. I always say that you don’t have to have an afro to be a part of Outdoor Afro, that we’re focused.

Shelby Stanger:

I got a bit of a Jew afro, but it’s all good.

Rue Mapp:                       

A little bit. But it’s like because we have so much diversity of our … Like I said we practice diversity in many ways too. If our partners, our friends, our allies. When you look at my board and all the people who are part of Outdoor Afro, we absolutely look like America. And I think hopefully that’s what we can work together to help the industry become as well.

Shelby Stanger:               

Thank you Rue, this is awesome.

Rue Mapp:

Thank you.

Shelby Stanger:

Rue Mapp. Thank you so much. I’m so glad we got that in and less than 40 minutes. We literally met and then we almost got stuck in an elevator and recorded this right away. So that was pretty awesome. Thank you to the crew at Outdoor Retailer for the lovely podcast room to record this conversation, and for making diversity in the outdoors something that was at the forefront of people’s minds at the show. Thank you to REI for not only supporting this show, but for supporting groups like Outdoor Afro. Thank you to Jess Weinstein at Keen for the official introduction to Rue. Jess, you’re the man. And you for listening. Thank you so much. I’m really wowed by your comments, your feedback, your direct messages, and your emails about how the show is affecting you. I’ve gotten a few just this week that said you quit your job after listening to the show and you’re doing something awesome, so I really appreciate it.

Please tell your friends, tell 10 if you like the show. I really hope you don’t feel stuck or scared and that you decide to pursue whatever wild idea will positively affect your life. One thing that Rue said that really struck me besides it nature or bears for that matter, really don’t give a hoot what color, race, gender you are, is that she’s doubling down on joy. I think you should too.

So with that being said wherever you are in the world, don’t forget some of the best adventures happen when you fall your wildest ideas. I have to read you one more Apple podcast review. This is from Jackie Flyers. Jackie whoever you are, thank you so much.

She said, “The common thread among most guests as they took a chance, took a leap and trusted it would work out. I have to say, hearing this from amazing adventures helped encourage me to take my own leap. I moved from the East Coast to Hawaii about a month ago away from family and friends and everything that’s been so familiar to me. I’ve experienced all kinds of ups and downs, new experiences, new adventures. And living outside my comfort zone. I’m excited to see where my new adventure takes me and I’m glad I have Shelby and her guest to keep me company along the way.”

So Jackie, we’re here for you wherever you are. Thank you so much for sharing that with us. Next week we have a guy who I think is going to get nominated to win adventure of the year, Tate MacDowell. Stay tuned, we’ll see you next week.

 

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