Advocate Spotlight: Taimur Ahmad

Taimur Ahmad is a committed climber and emerging leader in the field of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (JEDI) in the recreation world. We’re also lucky to call him a member of the Access Fund team, where he serves as California Policy Assistant and JEDI Fellow. Taimur graduated from Princeton University, then worked for the Wilderness Society as a Recreation and Forest Policy Fellow where he frequently collaborated with (and dazzled) the Access Fund policy team. In addition to his policy work, Taimur has helped Access Fund, USA Climbing, and numerous local climbing organizations around the country follow through on their commitment to make climbing, advocacy, and stewardship more inclusive now and in the years to come. He also volunteers for his local search and rescue unit in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in Bishop, California.

5 Questions for Taimur

What’s your favorite cause in climbing advocacy right now?
Is there really any other way I can answer this? JEDI of course! Seeing the movement for greater diversity, equity, and inclusion in the outdoors grow from a handful of devoted individuals in decades past, to a grassroots movement, to something that has now captured the attention of our entire community and nation has been pretty incredible and motivating. It’s encouraging and validating to feel like we really are making progress and making climbing a better space for all people.

What does it mean to you to be a climbing advocate?
Devoting time and energy to something you believe in. It could be rebolting, it could be JEDI, it could be protecting the land—even better, it could be something at the intersection of all these different areas. Regardless, it’s about giving yourself to projects that you feel will create a stronger, more inclusive, more sustainable community.

What’s your advice to new advocates?
As perhaps a newer advocate myself I’m not sure that I’m qualified to give this sort of advice quite yet, but I’d say: listen to the folks who came before you, learn everything you can, do your homework on the issues, and then don’t be afraid to dive right in, build your own ideas and projects, and get messy. We’re all going to make mistakes, and we’re all inevitably going to get criticized by folks coming from totally different angles, but as long as we can learn and grow it’s worth it.

What challenged you the most about getting into the advocacy world?
The biggest challenge in my own personal JEDI advocacy is trying to balance the many different perspectives of my peers and fellow advocates in the space. Sometimes our approaches to social justice can vary widely, and that unfortunately means that we can come into conflict, even though we are allies. What’s crucial is always remembering that we share the same goals and the same fundamental values, and that ultimately we are far more likely to succeed when we lift each other up.

Who is another climbing advocate whose work is really inspiring you right now?
There are so many folks out there doing great work, but most of the ones that come to mind already know how highly I think of them, so I’m going to give a shoutout to Memphis Rox for doing an incredible job of bringing JEDI out of the clouds and grounding it in real, flesh and blood, community-based action.

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