The third meeting is in the books.
Last week, we began to hatch a process by which we would evaluate and approach individual route names that have come under scrutiny for being offensive to marginalized populations. We know a lot of people are interested in this process. We still have a lot to discuss, and we still have to present that process to the full board for discussion and vote. Please be patient while we do our best to get it right.
We also discussed some interesting ideas and action items:
1. A guiding-education scholarship. We all seem to like this one, but there are questions that need to be answered (some of them by accountants and lawyers) before it becomes a reality. Some committee members will be working on that this week.
2. Route-development clinics with spaces reserved primarily for BIPOC and LGBTQ+ climbers to encourage people to become responsible first ascencionists.
3. Composing a climbing code of conduct, so to speak, to include on the NRAC website, and request inclusion in guidebooks and on Mountain Project. A committee member will reach out to Taimur Ahmad, Access Fund Diversity Fellow, for contacts within other LCOs that have undertaken the same action.
4. Wolverine Press, publisher of NRG guidebooks, is generously donating ad space to us in upcoming printings. The committee approved the artwork you see above, which has been sent to the full Board of Directors, as well. Committee members are also reaching out to authorities on the Native American history in West Virginia, to ensure our information is as accurate as possible.
5. We also welcomed a new committee member, Marina Inoue. Presently, the committee includes: Marina, Elena Fouch-Watson, Bayer Watson, Sam Chaber, DJ Grant, Maura Kistler, Tricia DiFranco and Jay Young.
We are all stewards of land once held by indigenous people. Our respect for them, as well as for justice, equity, diversity and inclusion in climbing must be present in everything we do.
Our newly minted JEDI Committee (Justice, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion) has now met twice, and will continue to meet on Sundays for the foreseeable future.
This past Sunday, members of the committee worked to define its scope and will present that to the NRAC board of directors. Once that scope is approved, it’s full steam ahead.
Just as importantly, we began to work on a process by which offensive route names can be changed. This process places a large amount of emphasis on talking to first ascentionists. Our first step is to gain some more data, but with the next edition of the Volume-2 NRG guidebook headed to press in October, there’s a real sense of urgency to move forward.
Possibly the most contentious potential name change of all that of the Endless-Wall route formerly known as The Racist. That climb is not in Volume 2, so it's a little less urgent. Nevertheless, NRAC president, Gene Kistler, reached out to FA, Doug Reed, who enthusiastically endorsed a change. Doug certainly has a bit of a legendary status in the NRG. Active throughout the 1990s, he established so many difficult FAs, they’re hard to count. He’s working now to come up with a new name—we’ll let you know when that happens.
Guidebook publisher, Wolverine Press, expressed an interest in being part of solutions, and graciously offered us an opportunity to address JEDI in the opening pages of the guidebook. They also offered us an ad—free of charge—to use for a JEDI statement. In addition, Wolverine expressed a desire to include more photos of BIPOC climbers in upcoming editions. We are hopeful we can schedule a photo shoot or two to make this happen!
This is only the beginning. Please bear with us, as NRG climbing moves steadily into the future. The path is long and difficult, but we’re climbers after all, so that’s nothing new. We’re determined and honored to walk it.
We are all stewards of land once held by Yuchi, Tutelo and Moneton people—and likely many other indigenous groups, as well.
Close to 20 people joined the full board of directors (some attending via Zoom, around 30 people altogether) to discuss issues of inclusivity at the New and some of the more physical anchor/access issues around the area. Here’s what got done:
1. We welcomed new member, Elena Fouch-Watson to the Board of Directors.
2. We voted to form a new committee specifically to work on issues of inclusivity. Elena will chair the new committee. Board members Sam and Jay are also on it. The committee’s first task is to define itself, its size, its scope, etc. Its first meeting is scheduled for this coming Sunday.
3. We approved funds to pay for the return of a large barge that was used to transport materials across Summersville Lake for the ongoing Orange Oswald seawall project. This money is coming from the Dylan Hague Fund, raised to honor the memory and family of our dear friend by supporting projects at the Lake.
4. We approved funds to renew our contract with Flipcause, a suite of web tools for non-profits that we’ve been using for a couple years now.
5. We heard the official announcement that we received a large grant from the WV Department of Highways to further harden Bridge Buttress.
6. The Summersville stairs project continues. If you’ve been there a last few weeks, you may have seen the work that has already been done. We’re working closely with the Army Corps to install stairs.
7. Anchor Committee Chair, Kenny Parker, recognized Bayer Watson for his recent hard work replacing bolts.
The discussion surrounding inclusivity will continue. It is not always easy, but it is always necessary. It is our hope that the new committee, once it hits a stride, will help us move forward into a future that is fair and equitable for everybody.
Inclusivity Update, 8/3/2020: Video of Our 7/28 Zoom Meeting with Climbers of Color and LGBTQ+ Climbers
On July 28, we met via Zoom with climbers. We all decided to keep the meeting a little small in terms of participants to limit Zoom chaos, but climbers of color and LGBTQ+ climbers had voices there. It was an opportunity for us to hear their concerns, to learn from their experiences, and to ask questions about how they think NRAC should evolve. It was not all smiles and unicorns, but we believe it was ultimately productive, instructive and helpful for us to hear. The meeting was recorded, and you can view that recording here.
We have an NRAC board of directors meeting scheduled for tonight, 8/3/2020, and most of the items we'll discuss will be matters of inclusivity. Route names and more are on the docket, as we decide what direction we will go in as an organization. So please stay tuned for an update to this blog on that meeting as well!