On October 22, 2016, I was honored to be able to speak at the Access Fund’s 25th Anniversary Dinner in Boulder, CO. The theme of the evening was looking back at the past 25 years of climbing advocacy and looking forward to the next 25 years. It was truly exciting to be able to see and hear from many of the climbers who’ve been working hard to preserve climbing access for the past 25 years across America. As a relatively newer climber, I hoped to bring some light into my personal experience as an immigrant women of color based in New York City, who loves climbing. Here is an excerpt from my speech:
When it comes to the idea of “access” and barriers to “access,” the Access Fund has historically recognized the barriers to be the physical gates closing off a climbing area.As we look forward to the next 25 years of climbing advocacy, I’d like to challenge the Access Fund and our climbing community to consider expanding what we define as “barriers to access.” Could it include representation in climbing media and industry, the breakdown of our traditional mentorship model, high cost of gear, travel and free time or even a cultural disconnect from the outdoors? And if these are the true barriers that our climbing community now faces, does Access Fund need to grow or change as an organization to address those needs?
It was quite nerve-wracking to speak in front of 400+ people, many who’ve been part of the climbing community for 30+ years but I am happy to say that my speech was received very well at the dinner. Many folks came up to me afterwards to agree on the importance of challenging the climbing community to address the changing demographic of climbing within our advocacy goals. My feeling was that the much of the climbing industry and community recognizes that there is a gap – a mentorship gap, a representation gap, an access gap – and are open to begin a conversation on how to address that. Looking forward to seeing the progression of our sport!