06/03/2020

To our community

Categories: Perspectives , Community

To all the beautiful people in the Access Fund community, 

With broken hearts, we have witnessed over the past several weeks the terrible murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor. Those horrific events triggered a wave of protests in the streets of our nation, catalyzed by generations of anger and frustration over racism and violence against the Black community. 

At Access Fund, we stand in solidarity with our Black friends across the country in confronting this racism and calling for justice. We should make no mistake that Black people are under attack right now as a result of systemic racism and police brutality. We must use our collective voices to confront this injustice against the Black community and find strength in our shared humanity and diversity. Black Lives Matter.

In the same way that we would respond to a call for help in the mountains, we must answer this call and step up for our friends, our climbing partners, and our fellow human beings. We have a moral obligation to do the right thing. We must use our voices to participate in the difficult but incredibly important conversations about the current state of affairs in our country. We will try, and we will make mistakes. And we will keep trying. Our journey toward justice is ongoing, but we will make progress together.

I wanted to share with you a thoughtful blog post from Taimur Ahmad, Access Fund's Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) Fellow. Taimur’s voice has helped all of us here at Access Fund to connect the dots between the importance of confronting anti-Black racism in our country with our mission of protecting climbing access and conserving the climbing environment. Thank you, Taimur, for your heartfelt words. What can access to outdoor recreation mean if so many of us do not feel safe stepping foot outside of our own homes? 

What the Climbing Community Can Do
Here are a few ideas from all of us here at Access Fund on how we can take action:

  • VOTE. We all need to make sure we are registered to vote in the upcoming election. We can make a difference by electing people who stand with the Black community in the fight for justice. You can find out if you are registered and get more information here and here.  
  • Educate ourselves. The amount of quality material on systemic racism in America is vast. Here’s a list of anti-racism resources to start with. We think this piece from the Avarna group hits on the important connection between the Black Lives Matter movement and protection of public lands. You can also check out the blog post JEDI 101 for Climbers, which Taimur wrote just last month.
  • Support movements for justice, whether by your presence at a protest, by donating, or by contacting your legislators to demand change and accountability.  
  • Both in person and in our online presence, we should amplify and prioritize the voices of those on the front lines and those whose voices have historically been repressed. Listen to what they have to say.
  • Critically examine our own behavior. We all have biases, and it is a never-ending—and very worthwhile—struggle to make sure we as individuals are doing all we can to live up to JEDI principles in our own everyday actions.

We are on our own justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion journey here at Access Fund, and these recent examples of racism and violence against the Black community underscore the need for us to continue this work. From looking critically at the makeup of our staff and board to measuring the impact of our program work and communications, we are making progress but still have a long way to go. 

We recently completed a JEDI assessment for the organization, and our staff expressed passionate support for JEDI values, but some also shared that they need help in learning how to implement those principles into our day-to-day work. We are solidifying the next step in our plans to act on the lessons learned from the internal assessment, and that work will continue indefinitely. 

Thank you for all you are doing. Please join us in taking action today and supporting the fight for justice.

Chris Winter is Executive Director of Access Fund. He provides strategic leadership and manages organizational health, working with the board of directors, staff, and partners to fulfill on Access Fund's mission to keep climbing areas open and conserve the climbing environment.