Yesterday (7/28), Gene, Paul and Jay, all from the NRAC board of directors, met with a group of climbers to discuss the re-naming of routes with offensive names, and to try to gain some perspective that is not our own on that and other issues of inclusivity. In attendance were climbers of color and LGBTQ+ climbers. Joel Brady of SWPAC generously donated his time to moderate the discussion. We also discussed the evolution of our organization and where we can go to get continuing advice on inclusivity and social justice in the New River Gorge.
We'll soon post the recording of that meeting for all to see, and we'll update our Instagram and Facebook feeds when it's live. (IG: @nrac.official, FB: @newriverclimbing).
Brittany Leavitt suggested we reach out to Taimur Ahmad, Diversity Fellow at the Access Fund. Taimur and Jay hope speak tonight by phone—the second of aforementioned meetings.
The third is tentatively scheduled for Monday evening, an in-person board meeting, with several items potentially on the agenda. Those items include route re-naming, the addition of new members to the board, and hopefully, the formation of an inclusivity committee, which would ideally have its own budget and be empowered to make it's own decisions to a large extent, so it wouldn't have to bring every initiative to a board vote before taking action.
Personal note: I think some of the attendees of the meeting felt like we were pushing back on some issues. We're a little weary of messing this up, and if we seemed reluctant, it's only because we're trying hard to understand what to do next. We are not the kings of the New River Gorge. We simply don't have the power to pass out decrees, no matter how right and justified those might be. But we need to do a better job of advocating for people who have never been advocated for here in the past. We are present. We are engaged. We are trying hard, and we are determined to move forward into a future where everybody feels safe and welcome at the NRG.
We'll continue to update this blog regularly, with notices on IG and FB when we do.
Outreach Committee Chair