The Weekly - June 23, 2020 - 27

Field Notes



Doing What
We Can

Leverage your time, money, and influence
to take intentional actions and create real
transformation. By Dani Reyes-Acosta



far from any metropolitan center,
I watched as our society trembled
at the COVID-19-caused collapse.
Snowpack melted. Seasons changed.
Frustration and isolation blossomed
into rallies for systemic change and
a reawakening of the Black Lives
Matter movement after the murders
of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd,
Breonna Taylor, Riah Milton, Dominique Fells, and others. And, yet, life
here in the mountains went on.
Instead of splitboarding and
climbing in Canada from the doorstep of my private mountain chalet
(a 1995 Ford e250) as I had planned
to do this spring, I rented a studio
apartment for a month in in Driggs,
Idaho. I reconciled the abrupt end to
my ski season by doubling down on
work and new personal projects. I invested time in self-care and building
new routines. I made sourdough.
My anxiety and stress continued to
build, of course. I was (and continue
to be) unsure of the correctness of my
behaviors, online and in person, as
societal norms shift. I'm still worried
about the health of my loved ones,
especially the immunocompromised.
I learned to reengage in conscious
consumption of content-social
media and the news would throw
me for a loop if I didn't. I saw the
inequitable effects of COVID-19 on
Black, Native, and other communities with poor access to health care.

I experienced daily anxiety and
frustration borne of a system that
punishes our country's poor and
marginalized groups.
So I did what I could and leveraged the time, money, and influence
at my disposal. Time: My work as a
brand consultant and writer promoting conscious consumerism gives me
opportunities to focus on projects
that make a difference. I pursued
that work, doggedly. I also downloaded recommended audiobooks
to listen to on early evening runs.
Now, more than ever, education is
critical. Money: I donated to organizations doing work that mattered.
Influence: I used my social media
to share resources, connect people,
and share personal stories of change.
Brené Brown is right: Vulnerability
is strength. I wear my mask. I help
grow a garden. Most important, I
stay isolated and remote. Then, as in
now, I inhabit faraway places most
people only visit on the weekends or
during vacation. Social distancing
has often been an intrinsic part of my
Colorado and vanlife existence.
This rural corner of Colorado,
just an hour away from Telluride
(where I am located now), reminds
me that privilege doesn't look just
one way. As it was in the Tetons, it's
painful to watch attitudes play out
here. In the mountains, privilege
and detachment from communities
of color make it easy for allyship to

Dani Reyes-Acosta

remain performative.
Down valley, blue collar towns
that export labor to resorts or scratch
out a proud existence silently struggle
with their own constant change.
Generations of established, predominantly white families now share
their rolling hills with ski bums who
saved their bar wages and Spanishspeaking workers. Attitudes, as much
as ideology, often clash.

just a spectator here. I'm an outsider, but not because I haven't lived
here long or don't own my own land.
I am different because I am,
and always will be, a woman of
color. My choice to center growth
through alpine adventure means
I am often one of the few-if not
only-people of color in the off-thebeaten-track outdoor spaces where
I live, play, and work. I've brushed
aside this fact for so long that it
took a murder to jolt my consciousness. To remember that the
person following me home from
the gas station or the man recording me as I run by his house may

have deeper hostilities my constant
smile can't resolve.
When a blond, blue-eyed friend
warned me of deep-seated racism in
a town rapidly changing via ski-bum
gentrification and Latinx workers,
I had to smile, tersely. As if I don't
know. I get dirty looks and flat-out
ignored constantly.
As I watch these towns grapple
with their own identities, I double
down on work that can uplift us
all. I spend time on self-care in the
name of both joy and self-preservation. And I try, even on my worst of
days, to remember that our work,
collectively, will create a better
world if we're willing to try. Racism
is as overt as it is covert, whether
I'm in the country or the mountains.
Change is not a one-time event-it
is a series of intentional actions that
transform us all.
Dani Reyes-Acosta designs next-gen
brand strategies and "embracing
change" communications at Nomad
Creativa ( Follow her on Instagram: @notlostjustdiscovering and @nomadcreativa.


The Weekly - June 23, 2020

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