Sisu Magazine Issue Two: Grounded

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SISU Pronounced see’-soo. A Finnish term embodying the spirit of grit, guts, and perseverance. Sisu represents a human being’s ability to face any adventure riddled with hardship, hopelessness, and impossibility, yet they still choose to stay the course. It’s not a temporary state of courage, it’s a way of life. SISU MAGAZINE A collection of uninterrupted stories, brilliant photographs, and stunning art that evokes the indomitable human spirit that exists in all of us. An exploration into the experiences and perspectives about the outdoors, told by our contributing writers, photographers, and artists who represent a bold, insightful collective voice.

f r o n t a n d b ac k cov e r P h oto g r a p h y by j e n n i f e r g u r e c k i c o l l a g e a n d q u i lt i n g b y l a u r e n b e l l o O k e r m a n @ @ @

“I thin k we are w being ay too comfo comm rtable claim itted t , eve we w o n ant th a s we p ings t we w r oo be d ant ch iffere ange, nt. If then we


be the have to chang e.” do n ’t

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ta lk abou t it Pag e 16

6 permission to play

Be in Your Body


by Teal Stetson-Lee


homemade and handcrafted Artisan Brands Built For Any Adventure by Erica Zazo

the evolution of dreams


Jackie Paaso and Eva Walkner’s New Film by Brie A. Moore

12 ask jenny

Hey Suck by Jenny Bruso

whose playground? African Tourism with Savage Wilderness Safaris


packing a new perspective Cultural Landscapes of Africa by Jennifer Gurecki


an indoor girl on the outdoors The Park Ranger Is Gonna See Your


Ass by Melanie Briggs


Top 5 Tips by Jennifer Gurecki

don’t just talk about it


Communities of Support with Kriste Peoples

22 get out + get in

OUT There Adventures

poetry in motion

Conundrum by Sydney




Sorry Not Sorry by Latasha


by Julie Brown


travelling across africa

stoked and awed to be sober in the backcountry


when the cows come home Biodynamic Farming with Tibby Plasse

Substance-Free Adventure by Sonya Pevzner

63 26 no boys allowed

Safe Spaces by

Why Mountain Town Suicide Rates Are on The Rise by Lisa Slagle

Alexandra Lev


losing a limb

Life After Death by Jennifer

snowghosts of our friends



who’s in charge?

Self Care with Lynsey



what’s in my pack


the pitch

Outdoor Art Kit


be seen


Clearing, Healing, and Planning How to use Chinese Medicine by

DIY Fashion by Devin Bridson

with Andrea Slusarski West Coast Lifestyle with Hoff Goods

Samantha Romanowski

Founder Haleigh Hoff

raction e t n i ] ’ oples is not e p s u o n t “[Indige e environmen er embedded with thctive, but rath hips of destru ate relations t, and in intim , respec

ity mutualction.” conne w p a ne 42 age P

get it together

Financial Cents by Hsin-

Cheng Kuo




eat, drink, + be merry

Shop It Limoncello Ice

Cream by Vanessa Barajas

82 ive

ect ersp

ing pack


that’s what he said

Mansplaining by

Andrew Pridgen 1



STAFF follow @sisumagazine #gritandguts

SUBSCRIBE Never miss an issue. Subscribe at

CONTACT For general inquiries, write to

SUBMISSIONS If you’d like to contribute, email us at

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STOCKISTS If you’d like to stock Sisu Magazine,

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Jennifer Gurecki CREATIVE DIRECTOR Lauren Bello Okerman

CONTRIBUTORS Vanessa Barajas Devan Bridson Melanie Briggs Julie Brown Jenny Bruso Latasha Dunston Lynsey Dyer Hsin-Cheng Kuo Alexandra Lev Brie A. Moore Sonya Pevzner Andrew Pridgen Samantha Romanowski Lisa Slagle Andrea Slusarski Teal Stetson-Lee Erica Zazo Sydney Zester

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letters to the editor Send your letters to and snail mail or gifts to 3983 S. Mccarran Blvd. #481 Reno, Nevada 89502

©2019 Sisu Magazine, All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the editor, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.


“I have stood on a mountain of NOs for one YES.� - B. Smith American Restaurateur, Model, Author, Businesswoman, and Television Host 69 Years Old 3



FROM THE EDITOR What’s more difficult: Launching a print magazine in 2018 or following up your first issue with something that is just as visually stunning and intellectually compelling? We haven’t landed on the answer yet, but we are enjoying this adventure and are over-the-top thrilled by your responses to Sisu Magazine. Here’s a few things that you’ve written to us: •

“It’s like an exhale of relief and a huge inhale of fresh air when I sit down with a publication like Sisu.”

“It’s incredible. No women’s magazine has ever talked to me like I’m smart before. Or like nothing is wrong with me. Or like I’m not on display. It’s like I’m just a human. With value.”

“I love what I see. I can’t wait for what future issues hold!”

And so here we are, presenting you with the Grounded issue. Inside our contributors are exploring topics that everyone is talking about—such as substance free experiences, dealing with depression, and creating sacred and safe spaces—but often these conversations are whispers compared to the louder narrative that has become a pillar in the outdoors. Après following a day on the slopes; beers at the tailgate after a long ride. Summiting peaks, going big, and getting rad. If that’s how you do the outdoors, you keep doing you. But if there is anything that we’ve learned over the years, it is that people experience the outdoors in very different ways. Those differences are not only stark and recognizable, they are valuable. They are helping to expand the perception of who plays in the outdoors, and why, and even what constitutes an outdoor experience. There’s room for everyone. In this issue we explore how we can become emotionally grounded by creating intentional spaces in the outdoors and talking about issues that have been incredibly stigmatized in our society. We also are examining the literal earth, from biodynamic farming, to how we have created the concept of wilderness. You’ll notice that my personal experiences of living, working, playing, and conducting graduate research in Kenya have heavily influenced the latter. What are often thought of as expansive, natural spaces free from the impact of human beings are actually culturally enriched landscapes that have co-evolved alongside humans. (And this isn’t just the case in Africa; closer to home in the US we see the same issues, particularly when we look at how indigenous people have been forcefully removed and erased from their land.) The Grounded issue is particularly special to me because of this connection to Africa. We invited Denver-based artist Andrea Slusarski to bring the photos of my cycling trip across Africa to life with her art. I interviewed my dear friends from Savage Wilderness Safaris who are helping to grow the outdoor recreation economy in Kenya. And I share a few of my own tips about how to travel on the continent. Needless to say, we are eagerly awaiting your response to the Grounded issue. Send me a note to share your thoughts at, and in the meantime, enjoy.

Jennifer Gurecki Editor-In-Chief


FROM THE creative director

The art of this issue of Sisu Magazine is grounded in collaboration. Collaboration anchors the work of humans together, each supplying their own energy and vision to a finished piece. It is also a process, one that grounds, builds personal communities of support, widens artistic horizons, and stokes the creative fire. For our collaboration, Editor Jennifer Gurecki supplied her personal photography and narrative from her travels in Africa, a place she calls home and grounds her in her travels and work. Andrea Slusarski, our featured artist and nature lover, contributed her artwork which is inspired by Jennifer’s narrative, and grounded in her personal process of transferring ideas to paper. I finished it off by stitching it together. The stitch is a way of representing collaboration––a physical symbol of the ties between people, ties to the land, and ties between creators and ideas. Stitching is a way to illustrate the process of creating community, as a quilt is made, using a craft we all use to fix, to mend, to add, and to grow. This magazine is stitched together, a quilt of words and stories and art. Pieces from all over: a triangle, a square, and that wavy bit on the end. A story quilt. How beautiful is that? If it’s true, you should be able to unfold it gently and lay it out. It will keep you warm at night. The Grounded issue of Sisu Magazine illustrates the beauty of collaborative work––the concept that a stitch, as one small step or a thousand, will fortify communities of support and encircle safe spaces, while also bridging differences, tying people to land and the land to people. A stitch is followed by another stitch, and another, and so on, until the edges come together as best they can. Grab your readers and your thimble, and get ready to get ground yourself. This issue is quilted, stitched, and all hemmed up, with a little tag that says, “Sewn with Love by Sisu.”

Lauren Bello Okerman Creative Director




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TEAL STETSON-LEE | @tealstetsonlee


eal Stetson-Lee knows a thing or two about play. She grew up as a Nordic ski racer in Durango, Colorado and was first introduced to mountain biking and cyclocross through the Fort Lewis College Cycling Team, where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Gender Studies. Besides being a professional bike racer, she is a business woman, a leader, and a community builder. Today Teal works full time as the Event and Partnership Manager for the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship in Quincy, California, running three large cycling races that help fund multi-use trail development on a large scale in Plumas and Sierra counties. She’s passionate about influencing mainstream culture to incorporate and accept women as powerful, capable athletes, but her focus on equality lies both inside and outside of her sport. When was the last time you gave yourself permission to play? No agenda, no tasks to check off, no end goal. Just play? When I was a kid, I was happy to get dirty and


Are we being active and adventurous to meet a standard, fit a stereotype, for fitness only, to posture or pose as something we don't really believe in... play in the mud, make weird faces, and run around my yard naked, trying to learn how to pee standing up. I played soccer at recess and made forts. I pretended I was a mouse, a lizard, or a tamarin monkey. I do less tamarin monkey impressions as an adult, but I do dance naked in my living room, and I certainly play hard outside skiing, riding, running, wandering, and loving the oddness and imperfection of being my true self. I give myself permission to play. Play sets the mind, spirit, and body free from limiting social constructs. Play is important because it teaches us how to be IN our bodies instead of being A BODY. Play is generally not encouraged after girls reach a certain age, yet for men, it is generally more acceptable to play for the duration of their lives. Men are expected to be active with friends for social bonding and enjoyment. Though women also recreate with their friends for social bonding, there tends to be more emphasis to simultaneously get in a good workout and use the activity as productive time.

We are conditioned to focus on exterior presentation, aesthetics, and the pursuit of unattainable perfection. Brene Brown, in her research on shame in Men, Women, and Worthiness, discusses the difficult task for women to hold space for their vulnerability and power in this world. For women, shame is “being held up against the ideal and that, somehow, we can live lives and edit them so that what the world sees is what’s perfect about us.” This ingrained mentality is insidious because it percolates into most areas of our lives, even into our free time when we should feel liberated to express ourselves as we truly are, without limitations. Shame and perfection can underlie and influence experiences women have, including recreation. For women, recreation and athletic endeavors are often interwoven with the concept of fitness. Fitness is working out, which implies that we are out of shape. Even the phrase out of shape is less than endearing. What is the “right” shape, after all? The fitness paradigm keeps the focus on external approval instead of internal power.

Living an active life is good for your health. Physical movement is healthy and we experience hormonal and mental benefits from the release of dopamine and endorphins and being outside. However, on a deeper spiritual and mental level, the intention for our active lifestyle sets our course. Are we being active and adventurous to meet a standard, fit a stereotype, for fitness only, to posture or pose as something we don’t really believe in, which ties us back to an aesthetic focus? When we focus on aesthetics, we are living by someone else’s terms, not our own.


is important because it teaches us how to be IN our bodies instead of being A BODY. The answer to why we play matters because that is what we internalize about our own self worth. Let’s make that why about play and joy more often. When we lead with this intention, we can be the most powerful, active version of ourselves, free from self doubt and judgment. Our health, sanity, and sense of self depend on it. Photos: John Watson “The Radavist” Riders featured: Teal Stetson-Lee and Sarah Sturm




“Great people do things before they're ready. They do things before they know they can do it. Doing what you're afraid of, getting out of your comfort zone, taking risks like that–that’s what life is." - AMY POeHLER American actress, comedian, director, producer, and writer 47 years old


the evolution Hans-Martin Kudlinski @hmkphotog

Brie A. Moore, Ph.D. | @tahoecourage

of dreams


ackie Paaso and fellow Freeride World Tour athlete Eva Walkner can add one more feather to their hats: film makers. The duo, who represent more than 10 years of competing and 25 podiums, just wrapped up Evolution of Dreams, a two-year biographical film project. The film chronicles their successes, disappointments, and everything in between, from repeat injuries to summiting and skiing the Eiger in Switzerland. While women ripping down the mountain is something that we’re seeing a lot more of, Paaso and Walkner’s process for making this film is certainly unique. The two produced and directed the entire movie while also being the main stars in front of the camera. We asked Brie A. Moore, a Clinical Psychologist and Founder of The Courage Project, to weigh in on some of the more complex issues that emerge in “Evolution of Dreams.” If you’ve every seen Jackie Paaso ski, you know she’s not one to shy away from a challenge. Known for her “go big or go home” style, the 36-year-old skier has been crushing the Freeride World Tour since 2009. She dominated the Tram Face contest at Squaw Valley in 2010 and was named the second ever female Sickbird award recipient for skiing rowdier lines than we’d seen in the last decade. Paaso’s all in, always. Paaso’s latest project, “Evolution of Dreams,” may be her boldest move yet. She and fellow FWT athlete, Eva Walkner, have more in common than their penchant for big lines and their familiarity with the podium. Their successes have involved a lot of heartbreak and hard work along the way. The film is their vehicle to share the whole story, not just the highlights. From Olympic hopeful, to a near tragic overdose, to summiting and skiing one of the most iconic peaks on the planet, Paaso and Walkner show us that our dreams seldom take a linear path.



The Dark Side of Success

Hans-Martin Kudlinski @hmkphotog


Paaso began skiing moguls competitively at a young age and set her sights high. As an Olympic hopeful, she pursued her dream with a relentless and singular focus. Paaso experienced unmitigated success and learned the value of hard work. But it wasn’t all podiums and champagne. After failing to make the U.S. Olympic team, coupled with a host of other challenges, Paaso felt aimless, dejected, and alone. The guilt and shame were too much to bear. In 2004, Paaso overdosed. In 2009, after learning of her mother’s cancer diagnosis, she overdosed again. Paaso’s not alone. She’s one of the 16.2 million adults in the U.S. who experience depression. One in six people will experience depression at some time in their life. Depression affects an estimated one in 15 adults in any given year. Depression can strike at any time, but on average, it first appears during the late teens to mid-20s. Women are more likely than men to experience depression. Some studies show that one-third of women will experience a major depressive episode in their lifetime. A complex interplay of biological and psychological factors play a role in the onset of depression. When you consider the stress, the loss, and the sense of failure Paaso experienced, we can start to relate. We’re all in this together. We seem to have at least a little room in our culture for feelings of sadness after the death of a loved one, that injury that puts you on the sidelines for the season, or when our hearts are broken at the end of a relationship. This permission

allows us to share, connect, and ultimately move through these feelings. Depression is different. Bluebird pow days, skiing with friends, sunshine in the mountains––there’s not a lot of space for our struggles. So we stay quiet and force a smile, until we can’t anymore. Paaso’s overdose attempts were a cry for help in a society that doesn’t listen. Less than one-third of adults with depression get professional help. Although Paaso claims not to be an expert on depression, she’s honed in on the crux of the situation: You can’t go at it alone.

Resilience and Adaptability Paaso harnessed the courage that she’s known for on the mountain and began to open up about her struggles. “Evolution of Dreams” is her conduit to ignite an honest dialogue about mental health and inspire others to do the same so that they can get the help they need. “It’s important to talk about depression and to remove the stigma,” Paaso says. “People need to know it’s okay to feel this way to start the healing process.” Paaso is on her way. She’s surrounding herself with friends and loved ones, doing what she loves, and creating new dreams. Watching Paaso and Walkner’s journey gives

10 Hans-Martin Kudlinski @hmkphotog

us some insight into the process of overcoming depression. Depression is among the most treatable disorders. The large majority of people with depression experience relief from their symptoms with effective treatment. Research supports superior outcomes from a combination of medication and psychotherapy, particularly for moderate to severe depression. For many of us, however, effective talk therapy approaches can have a lasting effect and represent the treatment of choice. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a form of talk therapy focused on the present. It helps a person to recognize the beliefs and behaviors that can create and exacerbate depressive symptoms. CBT and a trusting therapist can help you take action to improve your mood. Paaso and Walkner must have read the manual; setting new goals, connecting with those who provide loving acceptance, and actively engaging in what you love are core components of the behavioral treatment of depression. Just as they challenged society’s expectations of female skiers’ capabilities, Paaso and Walkner continue to challenge their narratives. Hans-Martin Kudlinski @hmkphotog

“It’s important to talk about depression and to remove the stigma,” Paaso says. “People need to know it’s okay to feel this way to start the healing process.” They show us that our beliefs have the power to influence not only our emotions and behavior, but also to shape our identity, our self-worth, our drive, and our dreams. Once we come to understand that our perceptions shape our reality, we begin to build the foundation for lifelong resilience. We can create our world and our place in it. Paaso and Walkner share their struggles and their fight as a model of adaptability and resilience. They show us that at every turn there is an opportunity to head in a new direction. Our dreams are ours to create. “It takes strength to take one lost dream and turn it into something even greater, but it is possible and feels even greater in the end. Use the mistakes you have made in the past as lessons to move forward and keep fighting for what makes you happy,” Paaso says.

It’s clear these two aren’t going to stop fighting for what makes them happy anytime soon. With arms outstretched, soaring through the Alps amongst towering peaks, arcing that perfect turn on a blank canvas of snow, Paaso and Walker have become ambassadors for authenticity and the healing power of chasing your bliss. The opportunities for struggle and redemption, the perspective and awe, the joy and connection that only the mountains can provide have grounded them in their truth: The story is ours to write.




ASK JENNY Questions and answers about life, the outdoors, and whatever from the creator of “Unlikely Hikers,” an online community for the underrepresented outdoorsperson JENNY BRUSO | @jennybruso Dear Jenny Bruso, How can cis white dudes help make trails and the outdoors more inviting and open for women, POC (people of color), trans, and queer hikers?

OK! It isn’t about you. De-center your feelings. •

Get comfortable with the reality of privilege. We all have it. Some forms are more valuable than others. Question yourself often about what kind of access and advantages you receive because of it. Being white, cisgender, straight, able-bodied, educated, not poor, etc. are all examples of privilege. Having privilege doesn’t mean your life doesn’t suck sometimes, it simply means you are given more tools to navigate through certain experiences than those who don’t have the same privilege(s).

Be ready to be wrong. Often. Don’t let your ego or good intentions block you from receiving criticism, even when it’s coming from a place of anger. Listen first, react later. Impact > intent.

Make space for people’s anger. Don’t tone police under a guise of civility and positivity about things that are neither civil or positive. It’s silencing.

Don’t use phrases like “I have a black/queer/disabled/etc. friend” to justify a point you want to make.

If something seems oppressive, talk to your white cisgender friends and consult the Google oracle before asking friends experiencing oppression to provide emotional labor for you.

Be of service. Ask how you can support them and then follow through.

Accept that speaking out against oppression will make people in your life uncomfortable or angry. Bring up these issues at work, home, family gatherings, etc.

Use social media to share posts about these issues to create further reach. So often these conversations are being had in vacuums. Expecting oppressed people to do the real talk keeps the burden squarely on them.

-Trying Not to Suck

Dear Suck, I was really excited to get this question. A dude who doesn’t want to be a jerk? Excellent! But then I started feeling Not about you, but about how willing I feel to give someone a cookie for wanting to not be the worst. People shouldn’t get cookies for valuing equality, yet I see it all of the time on social media. Some athlete or outdoors figure finally finds out about the diversity conversation, built on years of labor done by oppressed people, then cobbles together a few sentences about it in an Instagram post, and everyone applauds their compassion. They aren’t actually doing anything. Not even uplifting those doing the work. They don’t call things by name: racism, sexism, transphobia, ableism, homophobia, etc., to avoid discomfort. Anyway, I’m bitter. But I still want to give you a cookie because I love talking about this stuff. I know you asked specifically in the context of the outdoors and I’ll get into that, but really, isn’t what happens out on the trail the same stuff perpetuated in the rest of our lives? Here’s an extremely pared down Ally 101: •

Believe peoples’ stories when they tell them without question. Just because you haven’t experienced something doesn’t mean it isn’t real. Your opinion of their experience has no value and it’s 12

especially on Instagram, addressing outdoor issues. The outdoor fantasy reel has been done. Normalizing the image of everyday people sharing their adventures can do a lot to reshape our ideas about who is getting out and how they’re doing so. Some of my favorites are @indigenouswomenhike, @brownpeoplecamping, @theventureoutproject, @browngirlsclimb, @melaninbasecamp, @wilddiversity, @queernature and @nativewomenswilderness. Oh, and @unlikelyhikers. Most of these can be found on other platforms, too.

Throw expendable dollars, regularly, at single-issue organizations founded by people directly doing the work of dismantling injustice and/or providing resources to those lacking. Local orgs are great places to start as opposed to large charities.

To get more specific about the outdoors, all of the usual suspects are at play: classism, racism, sexism, and so on, but colonization is a major piece that doesn’t come up enough. It’s deeply ingrained in the foundation of this country. The selling and partitioning of land not belonging to the colonizers and the displacing and murdering of indigenous people has gone on in various forms for hundreds of years. Our National Parks were built on this displacement! You’ll find colonial undertones within conversations about the environment, “public lands,” conservation, land overuse, etc. by implying “new” people to the outdoors are trashing these lands we love so. Outdoor media and culture are behind on everything. Making outdoor spaces safer for oppressed people takes first admitting these spaces are inherently hostile by the means with which they were created. Yes, there’s more representation of people of color in media, but that doesn’t mean they’re being invited into the boardroom. There’s still extremely little representation of queer and trans people, disabled folks or anyone who wears plus-sizes. These powerhouses are doing more to support the work of outdoor affinity groups and organizations, but they still shy away from naming the historical and institutionalized oppression informing these problems. We won’t change anything at surface level. Here’s how you can go deeper: •

Self-education is necessary. Dr. Carolyn Finney has an amazing book, Black Faces, White Spaces, covering and addressing lack of representation of Black people in outdoor recreation, environmentalism, and the legacies of slavery and racial violence that have shaped cultural understandings to the present.

Change your feed, change your life! Follow organizations and affinity groups on social media,

Again, financial support is always a good call, but only for organizations, groups, and people doing grassroots work. Most of the groups/orgs I named above accept and rely on donations.

Acknowledge the land you recreate on. Who are its original stewards? What do they call these lands? is a great resource. Be sure to explore the links they provide.

I know, this is a lot, Suck. It’s probably daunting, but you asked and that’s the first step. Now you’ve got to back it up. You have no reason not to now. Proceed with courage, humbleness, and love. I believe in you. Love,

Jenny Bruso

Do you have questions for Jenny? Hit her up on Instagram at @jennybruso for a chance to have your questions answered.




an indoor girl on the outdoors MELANIE BRIGGS

The Park Ranger is Gonna See Your Ass You really have to drop your drawers at least to your knees if you’re actually going to bang in the outdoors, that’s the thing. Doesn’t even really matter the size of the chili dog or the fingers or penetrator of choice that you’re dealing with. If you want it anywhere near the recreation area between your knees and your waist, and you’re outside, those drawers are gonna have to get low. And it’s all thrills and adrenaline until someone has to show their ass to a park ranger. It’s the physics of it all. If you were aiming for your belly button, it would be a lot easier to discreetly get the object of pleasure to its destination because your belly button is already horizontal and it’s not lodged between other things. But when you’re dealing with a destination thats pointed at the ground and is cordoned off by other limbs and/ or muscles, you’re going to have to start shifting and tilting and clearing a pathway and pretty much none of this can happen if those drawers don’t drop. You’re gonna get seen. This is partially why I’ve always


specialized in indoor sex. That and climate control. At the moment, I specialize in one-woman motorized sex. It’s similar to one-woman luge, or the skeleton event. Or when Che Guevara rode a motorcycle across South America. Just a woman with nothing but her wits and a fully-charged magic wand to get her to the top of the mountain she’s climbed oh, so many times before. And usually her cat who doesn’t have the decency to grant her a little privacy. It’s actually nothing like Che Guevara riding a motorcycle across South America. Upon reflection, those two things don’t seem comparable. It’s more like Lindsey Vonn in the downhill. I wouldn’t have it any other way right now. I wouldn’t compete in any other event; no team sports, no two-person bobsled team, no relays. Because I insist on being seen. It can be a one-night stand or a lifetime commitment, the measurement of time isn’t a factor in clarity

of vision. All I ask is that the person dropping my drawers is listening to my breath, feeling my muscles react, and watching my back arch. Blame it on porn, blame it on this crazy “hookup culture,” blame it on the music the kids listen to these days, but the experiences of late have rendered me invisible; I could have been anyone. Insert woman into fantasy, pull out all fancy moves because isn’t that what sex is? A competition to be the best, to get her calling all her friends the next day, to blow her mind because she’s never experienced anyone quite like you? Surely she’s never seen the move where you pull her to the edge of the bed, make sure her head is hanging off the side, and then stand over her and… Surely that will impress her. Surely that’s something she wants. She’s right in front of you, but do you even see her? Or did you press play on the porno in your head? I would rather spend the evening with my onewoman bobsled. And my cat. He definitely sees me. I can tell by the intensely distress look he gets. I want to be seen. When my drawers hit the ground, I want the person with me to notice what is unique to my shape. I want everyone from sea to shining sea, including the park ranger, to see me. This is why I specialize in onewoman motorized sex. Because I want the thrill and adrenaline of being seen.




' don t

just talk about it Kriste Peoples is a runner, writer, speaker, outdoorist, and producer. As the founder of Black Women’s Alliance of Denver, she extends her passion for connecting people to empowered, new narratives of wellness wherever they find themselves. An interview with:

Kriste Peoples | @kristepeoples

We first learned about Kriste Peoples after seeing her in the Elevation Outdoors article “Colorado’s Top Resident Badasses.” We immediately spent some time in the rabbit hole known as Google, and when we emerged, we knew we had to include her in this issue of Sisu Magazine. Not only did we want to learn more about Kriste’s drive and philosophy about creating an intentional community of support through Black Women’s Alliance, we also wanted to dig a little bit deeper about some of the issues that go part and parcel with bucking the status quo, like taking up space and the importance telling your own story. When we sat down to interview her, we knew that it was going to be good, but hot damn… Get ready for some eloquent truth telling and some inspiration to burn our old ways of being down to the ground. Talk to us about how women reclaiming their own stories and telling them themselves is a powerful tool not only for healing, but for change as well. Well, first let’s talk about how that story gets out of our own hands. When the media projects you in a light that is false or unflattering, outdated, or in any way that’s not a true representation of who you are, then someone else is in charge of that story, and you are not. Take the general perception of Black women—in the media we’re overwhelmingly cast as unwed mothers living in ghettos at the poverty line, illiterate, and abusing drugs. By that standard, I should not be who I am. I should not be visible in any circles of power or influence. So reclaiming the story means that I get to tell it myself and I get to say who I am; I get to advocate for myself, express my needs and own my feelings and freedom of movement. I have access to my emotions, and I get to be my own hero. 16


If you’re not controlled by the dominant narrative then you’re a wild card. And that’s unsafe."

Society as a whole doesn’t expect me to be here––especially as a leader in the outdoor space. Society doesn’t expect much of me at all, really. So anything I do is political—and that includes simply showing up—because it’s the kind of action that breaks the mold, eliminates stereotypes, changes perceptions. The ability to bear witness to each other in this way is what heals us, connects, and replenishes us. When the narrator changes, that means the story changes too. This is the process of owning oneself and one’s narrative. It plays a huge part in reconnecting us to our power and ability to impact change, to lead from our own vantage points and to redefine what power is as it relates to us. To women in general, to Black women specifically, to individuals, to anyone who wants to declare themselves in the world. Owning our own narrative can be uncomfortable for other people. Often times you get into trouble when you tell your own story, particularly when it goes against the grain of the stereotypical story about you and your community. What’s your experience with this? When we decide to tell our own stories or reclaim them, everything can potentially be at stake. There are countless ways you can “get in trouble” when you’re telling your story. You risk failure, rejection, and alienation because you’re upsetting the status quo, which lots of people are comfortable with. You might have to grieve the loss of the “safe bet” because you’ve chosen to own your narrative. People close to you might not like the change in you. It’s uncomfortable, but that’s growth. It’s all trouble, actually. It’s trouble and danger, and I highly suggest it. 17



If we want to go along to get along, then we follow the rules, and we get stuck in the rut. [Telling our own stories] upsets that matrix. It’s inconvenient to people who have an investment in keeping you controlled or keeping you in line. It’s disruptive and it threatens a certain kind of power. If you’re not controlled by the dominant narrative then you’re a wild card. And that’s unsafe. How can I control you and manipulate you if you’re challenging the storyline I’ve laid out for you? The thing we often forget is that all of the stories are made up. Everything we hold dear in our culture is a story. The upside of that realization is that we get to create new stories too—for ourselves, as individuals, as people who seek full expression. We get to do that. And if we want change on any level, we have to do that. Let’s talk about the outdoors… As it relates to the outdoors, a lot of people of color and other underrepresented groups are starting to make space for themselves. They aren’t waiting for the media or big business to extend an invitation. And there isn’t any law that says we can’t go into the mountains, visit our national parks, or frequent public swimming pools. I think we are way too committed to being comfortable, even as we proclaim we want things to be different. If we want change, then we have to be the change. This isn’t just memes and quotations and shit. This is the deal: If I want change, if I want it to look more colorful on the trails, for example, what steps can I take to make that happen? Maybe I want to join a group of people who don’t look like me and go out with them. I don’t need to read all the research and go to every panel and booth at the outdoor enthusiast convention. I can up and join somebody. Every expression of change creates change. Another aspect of this conversation is that these underrepresented groups aren’t asking big organizations and brands to extend a hand to us because they have their own his18


Everything we hold dear in our culture is a story. The upside of that realization is that we get to create new stories too—for ourselves, as individuals, as people who seek full expression. We get to do that." tories of elitism that have created barriers for people to enter and participate in outdoor recreation. So, if you’re set up to appeal to the upper crust or white, wealthy customer base, then maybe it’s not even in your interest to appeal to me—at least not right now. The big companies, it seems in my view, could stand to talk amongst themselves about how they’re going make their marketing and missions inclusive of all people. It’s not a problem that underrepresented groups created, and it’s also not one that’s going to be resolved overnight. Regardless, more people are making change happen—and enjoying the outdoors—on their own terms. Is that why you founded Black Women’s Alliance of Denver? In part. I used to live in Boulder and it was difficult, really, forging new relationships and finding community. So I took to the mountains and got into hiking. On the trails and on the street I didn’t see women who looked like me. It was the first time I’d ever lived in a

place where I could go for days without seeing a person of color. Eventually, I moved to Denver and pursued the idea to invite other women to join me in the outdoors. I really believe in the power of women to support each other and incubate ideas…I love the way we encourage each other and share knowledge. We tend to be more naturally collaborative. Once I got to Denver, I’d go to women’s gatherings and while I loved the content, I’d usually be the only woman of color in the room. And I thought, ”Black women need this kind of support and community because there are certain issues we face that aren’t addressed in spaces that aren’t specifically oriented toward us.” Let’s talk details. What are the issues Black women face that aren’t being addressed in other spaces? For example, a few years ago there was a spate of murders of Black people at the hands of the police. It was highly publicized. Like every other day on Facebook and in the news. Every time the officer would get acquitted, no matter the evidence. It happens way too often, but this particular sequence went well beyond our saturation point. Going to a group where I’m the only Black person doesn’t give me space enough to safely process the emotions in that experience of trauma, no matter how well-intentioned the organization. Around that time I’d meet my running girlfriends and we’d sometimes cry as we ran or we’d go along in a silent space of support for each other. In my experience, that’s not something a predominantly White women’s group is going to spend ample time focusing on in a meetup. Another example is hair. Black women’s hair can quickly become political, whether or not it’s deemed acceptable by others. You wearing your hair natural is the standard; me wearing mine in its natural state could get me disciplined or fired at work, or it could make me a curiosity in social settings that strangely compel some White people to touch and poke without asking. It’s problematic, to say the least. And being in community with women with shared experiences like those goes a long way to culti-

vate healing and resilience. What’s been the response to you creating a special, sacred space for Black women? It depends on who the responder is. Black women get it. They often tell me, “I’ve never seen so many of us in one place like this.””I’ve been looking for this and didn’t even know it.” “This is really nourishing to me.” “We need this.” There are also lots of non-Black women and men who understand the need for this kind of group, too. However, not everyone is going to embrace what we’re about, which is fine because BWA was never intended to appeal to everyone.


I think we are way too committed to being comfortable, even as we proclaim we want things to be different. If we want change, then we have to be the change.” Occasionally people will message me, “Are white people invited to this?””Is there something that I can relate to because if not, then that’s racist, ladies.” When I get notes like that, I take a moment to breathe before replying with something like, “All genders and ethnicities who resonate with supporting Black women’s wellness and healing are welcomed here.” That is the truth, and it’s part of our mission. Anyone who participates with us or visits the Facebook page knows this. They also know we occasionally host events that are open to nonBlack people and men. Maybe the question here is to ask those people who are feeling so threatened by Black women coming together to support each other, heal, and have fun, “Why is this so threatening to you?” 19




So taking that back or giving yourself permission, saying no, allowing yourself to be enough, and going places literally and figuratively that you haven’t gone before, that means you’re taking up space. You are saying to yourself, ‘I can, I deserve, I belong because I fucking say so.’”

What’s your advice on how people can take up more space and tell their own story? Part of it is to be willing to not know. We have to give ourselves grace enough to say, “I don’t know” or “I am afraid” or “I am figuring it out,” or “I need a minute.” That right there is a tremendous act of self-care and taking up space because you’re clearing for the next step, coming out of the margins of your own life. From a very early age, many of us are trained away from our instincts and passions and desires with messaging that says it’s shameful and immodest to speak out of turn, which often means you are making yourself smaller because of that training. So taking that back or giving yourself permission, saying no, allowing yourself to be enough, and going places literally and figuratively that you haven’t gone before, that means you’re taking up space. You are saying to yourself, “I can, I deserve, I belong because I fucking say so.” When you find yourself in a space of change, allow yourself to wander while you’re there. Be willing to just play for a while, to listen and rest, and to move according to your own timeline. Because it’s not going to look like anyone else’s next steps. If we’ve been marching to everyone else’s tunes our entire life, then sticking a toe out only to find ourselves launched into a wilderness of sorts, we have to get our bearings


again. That deserves safeguarding our process and being kind to ourselves as we go. Make some relative peace with discomfort because being uncomfortable is simply part of the deal. Not everyone will receive you well, support you, or understand. It’s important to not take that personally because when you think about it, if you don’t know where you’re going next, it’s understandable that other people won’t know either. And that’s OK. We have to wander, we have to leave what is familiar, and go through some dark nights before we can come home with the gold. Whatever that gold means to you. Don’t just talk about it, and read about it–– be about it. You want that change, go get you some. Get to know Kriste more at and on Instagram at @kristepeoples.

“ It'll be fine. I know who I am. � Annie Leibovitz, reflecting on how

her photographs have not always been classified as high art. American Portrait Photographer 69 Years Old




GET OUT + GET IN Julie Brown | @downtownjb


lyse R ylander (she/her) grew up in a small town in southern Wisconsin. “I was lucky enough to grow up in a family that went outside a lot,” says Rylander. They went camping, canoeing, kayaking, and in the wintertime, her family would load up the car to go skiing. When she was 16 years old, she started working at a paddlesports store in Madison called Rutabaga, where she kept a job until she was 22. There she was immersed with a community of likeminded people. “It was not only my entry point into the outdoor industry, but it gave me exposure to a bunch of amazing queer women,” Rylander says. “As I was coming to terms with my own queer identity, I was working with all these amazing queer women who were doing these really badass things. It was a fantastic place for me to be at that particular moment. I feel really lucky to have had that opportunity.” Now, Rylander, who is 28 years old, is the founder and Executive Director of OUT There Adventures, a nonprofit that aims to empower young queer people through outdoor experiences. When she reflects on her reasons for starting the nonprofit, she says she just wanted to give queer kids the opportunity to have an experience and a community like she had. “More and more and more people are able to find a space for themselves to go out and do these things and find a group of friends who are similarly identified, where they can go out and share these experiences together,” says Rylander. When Rylander started OUT There Adventures in 2013, she says she saw a big gap when it came to programming in the outdoors for queer young people. Five years later, she says the gap is beginning to shrink—in part because of the work Rylander has done to grow her program and partner with larger organizations, including Outward Bound. She also works for the Avarna Group, which consults businesses and nonprofits on diversity, equity, and inclusion. 22

Even beyond the queer landscape, Rylander says she’s seeing a surge of groups over the last couple of years who are creating community and opening up space for people with different identities and backgrounds. “There have been an immense amount—largely courtesy of social media—of groups that have come about in the last couple of years, and they are getting down to some interesting specifics around identity, and wanting to see themselves and other folks like them represented in the outdoor industry and to get outside with other people who have similar identities,” says Rylander. “I think the trend is definitely going to continue to create those spaces.” In addition to OUT There Adventures, Rylander also is a founder of the LGBTQ Outdoor Summit, which will convene for its third year this fall, this time just outside of Denver. Last year, 165 people came together in San Francisco. The effect is just as profound as the backcountry trips Rylander hosts with kids. “It’s what we’re trying to do with the kids, but on a much bigger scale, which is really amazing,” says Rylander. “It’s so fun to see the energy. And I think beyond that—the support, the friendships that are made, and then also the industry connections… That’s what we want. We want people to have the opportunity to get those positions and help continue to change the game from the inside, not just the outside.”


hanks to social media—largely, Instagram—it’s never been easier to find a group of likeminded people who come from a similar background, share a common identity, and are passionate about the same things as you. Here are a few groups to get you started. If you don’t find something that’s a good fit, then just look to any one of these rad people for inspiration and create your own space. If it’s not already out there, it’s probably needed.

Native Women’s Wilderness

OUT There Adventures

Project 16x

Mission: “The goal is simple: Empower queer young people through their connection with the natural world.” Brown Girls Climb Mission: “Brown Girls Climb aims to promote and increase visibility of diversity in climbing by establishing a community of climbers of color, encouraging leadership opportunities for self-identified women climbers of color, and by creating inclusive opportunities to climb and explore for under represented communities.” SheJumps Mission: “SheJumps increases the participation of women and girls in outdoor activities to foster confidence, leadership, and connection to nature and community through free and low-cost outdoor education.” Outdoor Afro “Outdoor Afro has become the nation’s leading, cutting edge network that celebrates and inspires African American connections and leadership in nature. We help people take better care of themselves, our communities, and our planet!” Queer Nature Mission: “Our program envisions and implements ecological awareness and place-based skills as vital and often overlooked parts of the healing and wholing of populations who have been marginalized and even represented as ‘unnatural.’ Our curriculums necessarily go beyond recreation in nature to deep and creative engagement with the natural world to build inter-species alliances and an enduring sense of belonging.”

Mission: “To inspire and raise the voices of Native Women in the Outdoor Realm. To encourage a healthy lifestyle grounded in the Wilderness. To educate Natives and non-Natives on the rich beauty and heritage of the Ancestral Lands beneath our feet.”

Mission: “Project 16x is a place for diverse artists, athletes, activists, and entrepreneurs to meet, be inspired and cooperate. In a space with enough freedom for minds to flow, enough inspiration for ideas to grow, and enough momentum for knowledge and opportunities to flourish.” Hike It Baby Mission: “Hike it Baby is dedicated to building communities that support getting families outside with children from birth to school age.” Outdoor Women’s Alliance Mission: “Our Grassroots Program strengthens outdoor communities through organized events, activities, and volunteer opportunities and by providing a supportive place for women to connect with other outdoor women.” Bold Betties Mission: “Takes the intimidation out of adventure by connecting women, the outdoors & their fabulous selves.” Julie Brown is a freelance writer based in Reno, Nevada. She’d like to tell you what she writes about, but that’s a hard question to answer because, at the moment, she writes a little bit about a lot of things. The list includes public lands and environmental politics, nightmarish ski traffic and why it will never get better—especially in Lake Tahoe. She writes about climate change and renewable energy policy, and a little bit about gender and women in the outdoors, with the occasional profile of someone who skis a lot. Hopefully the next time you read her bio, it will be more concise. One last note: people often call her Downtown Julie Brown, and that’s totally cool.




Stoked and Awed to be Sober in the Backcountry In the last few years a substance-free lifestyle has become somewhat of an internet trend, even allowing for a sober-curious lifestyle that encourages people who know that using substances doesn’t make them feel great to experiment with staying sober without committing to an all-or-nothing approach. Different kinds of people may choose a substance-free lifestyle, but those choices take on a

SONYA PEVZNER | @pevzdispenser


here’s something about cracking open a cold beer after a long day hiking or climbing or skiing––until you realize that it’s a crutch. Or you make shitty decisions. Or you turn into someone you don’t want to be. Alcohol and drugs are part and parcel in the outdoors, but there is a new way of experiencing nature that is emerging, and it’s being led by a war veteran and world-class adventurer.

increase the stress of the situation for me. The supportive environment was wonderfully freeing. I felt instantly safe.”

As a woman, I felt this perspective in my bones. Imagine being invited on a hut trip—only to learn it’s all men. Personally, I would hesitate to join, given my experience with the pressures that occur with being the only woman on a trip. All too often the drunk male

The three-day backcountry ski trip, held in the ancestral land of the Núuagha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute) people, was organized by Stacy Bare, the founder of Adventure Not War. Bare, whose list of accolades includes being named the National Geographic Adventurer of the Year in 2014, wanted to create a new kind of outdoor retreat, one that would be completely substance-free.

There’s something about cracking open a cold beer after a long day hiking or climbing or skiing—Until you realize that

it’s a crutch. Or you make shitty decisions. Or you turn into someone you don’t want to be. The intention of this trip was to create connection in the backcountry without allowing the potentially mind-numbing effects of any substances or alcohol to cloud social connections. The new substance-free adventure pilot program, deliberately named Stoke and Awe, aims to be a national leader in providing substance-free adventure opportunities in the outdoors. 24

different significance if your relationship with substances is fraught with safety issues. For Jackie Arevalo, a participant in Stoke and Awe, the openness about not partaking created an immediate feeling of security. “As an abuse survivor, safety is frequently my conscious and unconscious forethought,” Jackie says. “Impairment only serves to

dom and safety knowing that everyone on the trip would be substance-free, especially since there was a mix of folks with substance-free lifestyles, sober lifestyles, and others who have healthy relationships with substances.”

“This trip was rare in the fact that every person was pretty comfortable with being themselves and having deep and personal conversations so easily and quickly.” ego creates a physical fitness pissing contest, as well as uncomfortable comments around the fire at night. Being under the influence prevents me from noticing when a situation may be more than just jovial, and it impairs my decision-making process. For me, choosing to live largely substance-free is tied to safety, as well as an increased fitness ability. It’s hard enough to skin up 2,000 ft and then ski down, but imagine doing that hungover. No, thank you. Stoke and Awe was created to fill the void for athletes or recreational outdoor enthusiasts who want to participate in substance-free outings. Intentionally using the term ‘substance-free’ to differentiate it from other organizations and activities that may use words like sober, addict, or alcoholic, Stoke and Awe provides space for people who may have an ongoing or even healthy relationship with alcohol and drugs to have a community of support. And for recovering addicts, the effects of a nonjudgmental gathering without pressure to drink can feel like a breath of fresh air. For Bryce Astill, abstaining from drinking in a social setting was a powerful gateway to emotional connection. “As a person in recovery it was different in that there wasn’t ever a conversation or questions about why I didn’t want a beer or drink,” Bryce says. “This trip was rare in the fact that every person was pretty comfortable with being themselves and having deep and personal conversations so easily and quickly.”

Ultimately, people may choose to be substance-free for a variety of reasons, whether or not they are participating in backcountry adventures. For Bare, the ease of conversation and connection was the biggest draw. “The lack of alcohol or substance created a focus on one another, nature, and the activity at hand. Ultimately, we didn’t even talk that much at all about substances being absent, which was perhaps one of the biggest surprises,” he says.

“When it comes to outdoor recreation, the goal is to help people utilize the power of nature to help them see their strength or a pathway to their strength. And to do that, we need to be a bit more intentional in nature, or conscious, or mindful of its power. Through that, we can create a stronger community of outdoor enthusiasts, resilient and strong in moving through the world together.” Sonya Pevzner is a freelance writer, filmmaker, and storyteller, based loosely in Boulder, Colorado. She draws from her experiences as a queer Russian-Jewish refugee with a background in wildlife management to tell stories of mental health, social and environmental justice. She enjoys exploring nature with her cattle dog Masha, farming, black coffee, and making grown men cry.

“the goal is to help people utilize the power of nature to help them see their strength or a pathway to their strength. And to do that, we need to be a bit more intentional in nature, or conscious, or mindful of its power. ” photography by louis arevalo in the mt. hayden backcountry on ute land

But substance-free spaces aren’t just for recovering addicts. Koorosh Rassekh, who flew in from Los Angeles to join the weekend outing, specifically noticed the safe space that was created between people regardless of their relationship with drugs or alcohol. “There was such a sense of free25



NO BOYS ALLOWED Alexandra Lev | @luckyalexandra


he outdoors are considered a sacred space to many of us who spend our time hiking, skiing, climbing, biking, or doing sun salutations in the open air. Yet for many women, queer, non-binary, and trans folks these spaces have been hostile, unwelcoming, and even unsafe due to harassment and assault. Sexual harassment and assault have become so widespread that the National Institute of Health now considers these problems to be a public health crisis. Long before problems of assault and harassment came into the spotlight, women, queer, non-binary, and trans folks were shut out of male dominated spaces. We were banned from country clubs, conference rooms, universities, and bars. While underrepresented groups have fought to literally get their foot in the door, they also have set out to create their own organizations and experiences that ban cis-gendered men. Ironic? Hypocritical? Illegal? Perhaps. In the outdoor industry, we are seeing an expansion of community-specific clubs, organizations, and businesses. But we need to look outside of this space to understand some of the larger implications for implicit exclusion. Take The Wing, for example, a social club and co-working space that started in New York in 2016 with a vision to create a supportive working environment for women. Not everyone has been keen on the idea of spaces that don’t explicitly welcome men though, citing gender discrimination. The New York City Human Rights Commission opened an investigation into the company in March 2018 after 53-year-old James E. Pietrangelo brought a gender discrimination lawsuit against the company. (It’s worth noting that The Wing was not the first company to be sued by Pietrangelo. He has also brought lawsuits up against the United States Army, a city in Ohio, a deli in Vermont, and a law firm in Washington, DC. The last case led to a decision by the DC Court of Appeals in 2009, that stated his “conduct in this case and at trial was a shocking abuse of the judicial system.”) The Wing has since changed their 26

policies to welcome all gender identities, but says it was not a result of the investigation. Rather it came from discussions with members who are trans and non-binary. Issues also arose in Sweden when comedian Emma Knyckare started the Statement music festival, explicitly banning cis-gendered men. The festival was created after a series of sexual assaults were reported at Swedish music festivals, including four rapes and 23 sexual assaults. The Statement festival was held only once this past August before being shut down by the Swedish government because of gender discrimination. The organizers of Statement responded on Facebook by saying: “It’s sad that what 5,000 women, non-binaries, and transgender experienced as a life-changing festival made a few cis-men lose it completely. The success of the Statement festival shows that is exactly what we need and the DO’s verdict doesn’t change this fact. Otherwise, we have no comments. We are busy changing the world.” What’s difficult to discern at this point is whether or not either of these court cases will set a precedent that will impact other groups, organizations, and businesses that cater to specific communities. The challenge remains: Legality alone doesn’t always serve people. While inclusivity is important in every aspect of our society, the fact of the matter is that far too many people have yet to adopt consent, respect, and non-violence. We have a system that does protect these people when they do become victims of assault and harassment. Cases in point, the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, Brock Turner’s six month jail sentence, and Cyntonia Brown’s 16year jail sentence. These are just a few of the high profile cases among a sea of unfortunate and normal experiences that all too often go unreported. The system and society routinely work against us. Safe spaces are one way to right the complexity of wrongs that continue to oppress women, queer, non-binary, and trans people. When these communities are give the space to thrive, everyone benefits, even cis-gendered men. We want to hear from you. Are these spaces hypocritical and unjust? Should they be illegal? How can we create safe spaces? Share your thoughts with us at

Photo by Kari magnus




Losing a limb JENNIFER GURECKI | @yogurecki When people die the widows are left behind. Everything becomes their story. This is Dr. Mary Jackson’s story, one year after she lost her husband Nick to an automobile accident. That day changed Mary’s life forever, but in her grief she’s being reconnected with the one thing that Nick cherished the most: the outdoors.


rieving widows don’t need your platitudes. The Jesus stuff. The feeble attempts to make them feel better by explaining the laws of energy because as Dr. Mary Jackson says, you can’t have sex with a ghost. Widows need your presence. People to bear witness to their loss. But that is easier said than done. Ask Jackson and she’ll tell you that one of the hardest things is for people to exist with someone in their grief because of what it brings up for them. It’s a reminder that life isn’t some inspirational Instagram post. Sometimes it’s going to be shit. “We are so culturally inept at even seeing or facing death. It just confuses us and no one knows what to do with it,” Jackson says, who at the age of 35 was never ready to be a subject matter expert on the topic. “I go to the grocery store and people ask me how I am and I say my husband died this year. Nobody is ready for the real answer. We’re so wrapped up in our own comforts that it’s a shock to hear it.” It didn’t used to always be this way. As a society, we didn’t shy away from death the way we do now until the end of the 19th century. Up until then peo-


ple died in their homes and the family was responsible for cleaning them, dressing them, burying them. We also don’t see young men dying in troves like they were in World War II or Vietnam. We no longer have a toolkit to deal with death. We don’t even get to wear black anymore to indicate we are mourning.

“It’s more like an amputation, like losing a limb, rather than like an illness. It’s not a sickness that I’m going to heal from. Nothing is going to be the same after,” Jackson says, realizing that it’s this perspective that’s alienated her from the people who were in her life pre-accident.

"We are so culturally inept at even seeing or facing death. It just confuses us and no one knows what to do with it..." “Shit. Give people that year. You may need more than a year. Don’t judge what they say in that year.” And perhaps that’s why you lose a lot more than what you would expect—your person, your friends, family members, the future. Your entire life. When you have a loss of this magnitude everything changes. When the person you lose is your everything, there’s too much to navigate. A widow isn’t going to be sorry for the tears and the blank stares and the emptiness that makes so many people uncomfortable.

Dr. Kimberly Greeson was texting with Jackson when she found out that Nick had died. She’s one of the few friends who still speaks to Jackson almost every day, but she admits that the grief is complicated. “I lost her too. I’m grieving too because I’ve lost Mary.” What Greeson understands is that it’s no longer about you. Friendships are normally reciprocal, the back-and-forth of helping one another. But when a friend looses their partner, that changes. Your problems are not as important or serious. The structure of a friendship isn’t go-

"I learned very quickly that I can't do anything to fix this. I'm now her person. The best thing I can do is listen." ing to work anymore. Not everyone is going to appreciate that new person and they will be confused by it. “They don’t need you to fix it,” Greeson says. “That’s something that I had to learn with Mary. When she calls me, I just need to listen. I learned very quickly that I can’t do anything to fix this. I’m now her person. The best thing I can do is listen.” In addition to Greeson, Jackson has found a community of support from other widows. “We found each other because we were the only ones who understood.” Drawing from her background as an Outward Bound instructor and an AMGA certified guide, Jackson is ready to share her love of the outdoors with this new community. She’s found that while there are ample healing activities based in nature, very few are targeting grief and loss. She’s slowly starting to work on The Widows Walk, a series of trips and adventure activities to bring together the community of widows.

She’s ready to find solace in her community in nature. “The outdoors are a really important piece. The land, more than human nature, has been important in seeking solace or comfort or feeling closer to him and his spirit, especially high up in the alpine where I can get closer to him. I didn’t expect how intense it would be to go out to the desert in Utah where we used to spend so much time together, some of our best times together. Nature definitely has a way to bear truth and feel the truth of the pain. It doesn’t make it any better or worse, it just exists. The pain is so primal and raw, just like nature.” If you’d like to know more about Jackson’s The Widows Walk program, email her at Maryaliciajackson@gmail. com.

comfort in

Here are the rules. The person in the members of the larger community

true friends

center ring can say anything she wants to anyone, anywhere. She can kvetch and complain and whine and moan and curse the heavens and say, “Life is unfair” and “Why me?” That’s the one payoff for being in the center ring. Everyone else can say those things too, but only to people in larger rings.

the person experiencing the bad thing significant others: spouse, parent, sibling, etc.

casual friends, colleagues

dump out

When you are talking to a person in a ring smaller than yours, someone closer to the center of the crisis, the goal is to provide comfort and support. If you want to scream or cry or complain, if you want to tell someone how shocked you are or how icky you feel, or whine about how it reminds you of all the terrible things that have happened to you lately, that’s fine. It’s a perfectly normal response. Just do it to someone in a bigger ring. Adapted from “Want to Support Your Grieving Friend? 5 Truths About What REALLY Helps” by Candyce OssefortRussell.


P h oto g r a p h y by j e n n i f e r g u r e c k i


a rt by a n d r e a s lusa rs ki




Andrea Slusarski, whose work is featured throughout this issue of Sisu Magazine, is an artist and educator based in Denver, Colorado. Her art is rooted in the lines created by nature, chartered, followed down trails, carved through snow, and beyond. Finding inspiration in the environments she surrounds herself in, her sketchbooks continue to fill with the layers and messages throughout the landscapes and stories that grow her curiosity. Curious what she keeps in her pack for a day on the trail or in the studio? Read on, and get to know her better at

Talk to us abou t bei ng an artist i n the ou t doors–how did you ge t s tarted, what’s been you r process? wher e ar e you at now?

Drawing has always been who I am. Discovering the meaning and purpose of that is a process that comes with growing as an artist. Learning, experiencing new places, meeting new people, and opening myself up to more and more reflection has allowed me to listen and build my process in creating, thinking, and living. I started sharing my sketchbook pages in 2015 on Instagram. I was starting to feel very disconnected with my artist-self after a few years of teaching art in public schools, so I started committing to myself that== I’d make time for my sketchbook more. From there, it’s been the growth I highlighted before. I’m grateful the most that my art making has introduced me to so many more people to learn from and reflect with. Processes are messy and building more confidence in myself as an artist has been the journey that could not have happened without them. Right now, I’m focusing on following my curiosity. Deeper explorations, learning through art, and finding ways to build capacity for collaboration in my work is what has been making me excited in my creative thinking—so I’m going to listen to that.

What do you c ar ry i n you r pac k when you head ou t i n to the woods?

Almost always, even when not in the woods, my backpack contains my sketchbook with a handful of pencils and pens. When I’m going on a longer hike, camping, or backpacking, I’ll bring a sealable water cup, watercolor set, and brushes. Sometimes I’ll bring a second larger sketchbook; it all depends on how much time I’m going to have to paint. Whether it’s five minutes or five hours, any time I can allow creativity to happen I’m thankful for. My clutch item however? A butt-pad, as I never regret having a warm place to sit.

What c an’t you live wi thou t (i n li fe and/or as an artist)?

Trees. For one, we need oxygen to live, so that’s neat. In all seriousness, flowing through trees, whether hiking or snowboarding, creates the energy that fuels my line making. Trees are my favorite subject to draw and daydream about. My sketchbook is full of the many tree friends I’ve met in the places I adventure in.

What ti ps do you have for us?

For starters, stop saying you’re not an artist because “I can’t even draw a stick figure.” Seriously, do you know how many times I hear that in a day? Almost always. That’s the classic response I get when I tell someone I’m an artist/art teacher. Then the art teacher inside me cringes as I hold back every ounce of myself that wants to smack that idea right out of your head. Just because you “can’t draw” doesn’t mean you’re not an artist. You just need to find the medium or way creativity makes your own heart sing—that’s being an artist. Lastly, who cares if you “can’t even draw a stick figure.” You keep drawing how you draw, #ZFG.

find ou t mor e abou t andrea and her art at @ dr awingfromnatur e 33





An interview with:

haleigh hoff | @hoffgoods

Give us your best elevator pitch. Hoff Goods is a lifestyle apparel and accessories brand that celebrates the laid back lifestyle and locations of the West Coast. You gave the Bay Area a shot as a graphic designer and then returned to Reno, NV to launch Hoff Goods. Tell us about why you made that move. Coming back to Reno was initiated by a change in my personal life. I was in an in-between state and I had just began freelancing full-time, which allowed for me to be flexible. When I decided I wanted to turn my hobby of making products with my designs on them into a full-time endeavor, it made sense to 34

Hoff Goods celebrates the laid back lifestyle of the west coast do it in the city where I have the most connections and support. My network in Reno is incredible, and I owe a lot of my success to the people in this area who support me. It also felt cool to re-enter my hometown with a new business and something to offer to the community. How does your love for the outdoors translate into your designs? My designs are heavily influenced by the outdoors and the places where I live and play. It’s what comes most naturally to me and I try to ride the wave of organic inspiration as much as I can. The first sticker I ever made was the “Nevada Sticker,” which was inspired by being homesick on Nevada Day while sitting in

Oakland and wanting to create a design that I could post to the internet as a shout out for my hometown on its special day. It only took me a few minutes to capture the colors and shapes that I feel represent Nevada. I was surprised with how instinctively that design came to me and so I decided to follow that same style but with other places I considered ‘home’. Within a few weeks I had created an entire selection of designs (that eventually turned into stickers) of Tahoe, Reno, Oakland, California, and Oregon. It’s clear with your Perma Vacay line that you don’t take yourself too seriously over at Hoff Goods, but you did launch a “Here, Queer, Ready for a Beer” line. Why was it important to you to add that to your offerings? I want my brand to feel like an authentic extension of me, my opinions, and my values. Being that I am a queer person it is a part of my life that I wanted to represent in my artwork as well. I got the opportunity to have a pop up market at the Northern Nevada Pride Festival last summer and it felt like the perfect opportunity to create a few more items that were specifically intended for the LGBTQIA community.

What’s been the greatest reward so far? The thing that is the biggest struggle—working alone and doing it all myself—is also the aspect of the business that I find most rewarding. It feels great to be able to see the successes of something I created and executed all on my own. I’m really proud of the work I’ve put into creating this brand and to be able to work for myself as an artist is a constant reward. What’s one piece of advice for creatives who are aspiring entrepreneurs? I’d recommend building a strong and supportive community around you that you can lean on and learn from. Do the thing that you are passionate about doing, and do it hard. Where can people find you? Find Hoff Goods at and on Instagram at @hoffgoods. If you’re interested in keeping up with me personally, find me on Instagram at @hayreehoff. Want more of Haleigh Hoff’s designs? Head on over to to check out the Home Range collab between Haleigh and Coalition Snow.

What’s been surprisingly difficult about your business? I’d have to say that the most difficult aspect of starting this business has been being constantly alone and learning how to do it all myself. I underestimated how many decisions I’d have to make on a daily basis. Being decisive and confident in my choices is one of my biggest struggles.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.




h om e m a d e &

handcraFted Four brands with artisan goods built for any adventure ERICA ZAZO | @onecurioustrvlr

Shop small, buy sustainable, support local. These are things we all know we should do, but likely don’t do enough of. Who can blame us? It’s nearly impossible in a world of jumbo-sized supermarkets, online shopping, and targeted advertisements that consume our phone screens. Not to mention companies who tout messages rooted in community and transparency, but proceed with unsustainable and unethical production. This year, consider making a resolution to take the time to understand what you’re buying, where it comes from, and who played a part in creating it. Selecting brands that support local communities and prove their mission is truly making the world a better place.

The brand was born after founder (then visitor) Michael Paratore took a solo stroll through Mumbai. He picked up a pair of shoes from a street vendor and brought them back home to San Francisco. So many people asked about his shoes—where they could get them, what brand they were—that an idea started to grow. Long story short, the daydreams led to quitting his job and a one-way ticket to India in search of the original makers of his shoes. “[Mohinders] has become a way to engage with a longer story and larger conversation about quality goods we use and wear, how they’re made, and who’s making them,” Paratore says. “Our brand represents a group of shoemakers, a place, and a unique material—handtanned water buffalo leather using Acacia tree bark, limestone, and Myrobalan nut—made in small batches in a way that can’t be replicated elsewhere.” The brand strives to uphold respectful design and sustainability from start to finish. Changes to the Athanibased shoe designs are done so collaboratively with locals. Mohinders prices each pair of shoes collectively with the shoemakers. The brand works together with an NGO based in Bangalore who has organized to foster wealth creation, enterprise culture, and gender equality in Athani’s shoemaking community for nearly fifteen years. And Mohinders’ India operations manager has built long-standing relationships with the master shoemakers, visiting regularly to ensure payments are made on time and at a pace that serves the community. Woosah Outfitters


In Athani Village located in southwest India, Mohinders woven flats and slip-on shoes are handbuilt by third- and fourth-generation master shoemakers. Their heirloom design and craftsmanship, regional process, and use of low-impact materials results in a shoe that’s long-lasting, sustainable, and mindfully crafted by locals carrying on culture and tradition. 36

Say it out loud: Woosah. The word brings a sense of inner peace, calmness, and stillness. Take a deep breath in, exhale, that’s Woosah. It’s the same feeling many of us get when we step outside into nature, pick up a pencil or paintbrush, or fall into our creative outlet. For Erica Lang, a woodblock printmaker and founder of Woosah Outfitters, that’s exactly the case. From totes and tees to outdoor gear and original prints, Woosah com-

bines art, the outdoors, and quality handcrafted goods. Erica creates the art for all of her prints and apparel using woodblocks she hand carves in her studio and cozy shop in Grand Rapids, Michigan. During her process, she takes a block of wood, carves a graphic into it backwards, inks it up, and pulls a print of it one by one. Wood printing is one of the oldest methods of printmaking. Erica also claims it’s the raddest: “It’s my favorite medium for creating because it’s so tactile and physical— it makes you sweat a bit. I love watching the image come to life as I make each decision moment by moment to either carve that away or leave that there. At the end, I’m rewarded with the unmatchable stoke of inking the block for the first time.”

a sustainable and community-built mill. Weavers and seamstresses continue the tradition on the historical homestead of Old Nick Village where the company began. From towels to hand cloths to aprons, Mungo disrupts the all-too-common disconnect between maker and product by bringing handcrafted textiles back to their roots with small-batch production and ethical trading.

Heather’s Choice


The Mungo story began in 1998 on an old dairy farm, just outside the coastal town of Plettenberg Bay, South Africa. After moving to South Africa following an intensive weaving apprenticeship, master weaver Stuart Holding was gifted two abandoned Hattersley looms in need of repair. Twenty years later, Mungo remains a family-run business, crossing generations, and now boasting 80 employees. Empowering the local community is a driving force at Mungo. Their team of local weavers have become skilled artisans and are an integral part of maintaining

Born and raised in Alaska with a mother notorious for her organic cooking, Heather Kelly always had an appreciation for healthy and clean eating. Fast forward to college graduation, Heather left Western Washington University with a degree in Evolutionary Nutrition, two NCAA rowing championship titles, and a wealth of nutrition knowledge that she was ready to share with the world. In 2014 Heather founded her dehydrated backpacking and snack company, Heather’s Choice, after years of experience creating her own meals for backcountry trips. Her mix of paleo, gluten-free, and high-calorie lightweight meals are perfect for any adventure in the backcountry (or even at home if you’d prefer). Heather’s hand and culinary creativity goes into each and every meal: “I make dozens and dozens of batches to test out in the field and send on adventures with friends all around the world. I collect feedback, tweak, and perfect the recipes over months and years. Once we’ve chosen a final recipe that provides the perfect balance of nutritional performance and delicious flavor, each batch is then produced, by hand, at our production facility in Anchorage.” 37



whose playground? An interview with:

james savage and Antony Koine Makumi | @savagewilderness

There’s a new type of tourism happening in East Africa, and it has nothing to do with Westerners galavanting around the wide open savannah in search of an elusive jaguar or rhino. The Savage family (yes, that’s really their last name, and no, we cannot make this up) has been a pioneer in curating outdoor adventures in Kenya since 1990. They got their start leading expeditions up Mount Kenya, the second-highest peak on the continent of Africa, and then became the first to offer commercial whitewater rafting trips. Now they’ve got something new up their sleeve: creating affordable, accessible outdoor activities tailored to the growing middle class of Kenyans. After our Editor Jennifer Gurecki cycled across the continent of Africa with James Savage, the Managing Director of Savage Wilderness Safaris, in the spring of 2018, we wanted to find out more about the role they are playing in shifting the perception that the outdoors is a “mzungu” playground. And we looped in Antony Koine Makumi, Sales & Marketing Manager of Savage, to gain his perspective as a African who’s rallying for his people to get outside and explore more. James, let’s get into the origin story of Savage Wilderness Safaris. Why and how did your father Mark first start exploring the rivers in Kenya? He was a bush pilot and used to fly down to Galana Ranch on the banks of the Athi River, down towards Malindi. On one flight back to Nairobi the veterinarians, who he used to fly down to the ranch, wanted to do a game flight back. So he took the doors off the aircraft and flew low, following the Athi River. When doing this he saw a lot of water and rapids on the river. That night when back in Nairobi, he watched a documentary on rafting the Grand Canyon. It was then he realized that rafting in Kenya was a possibility. Historically, tourism in Africa has revolved around foreigners going on safari and expats getting out of the city. But we’re seeing a big push across


Africa to cater to the emerging middle class for a number of reasons: They are the fastest growing demographic on the continent, they are critical to the economy, and they have enough clout to demand that they no longer be rendered invisible in their own countries. James, what role is Savage Wilderness Safaris playing in the rather seismic shift we’re seeing in creating relevant, accessible outdoor inspired adventures for locals? The first main thing that we as a company are doing is training Kenyans and giving them the opportunity to get international qualifications so that they can be the most qualified, trained guides in East Africa. From the perspective of our customers, we are keeping prices low and tailoring the activities to attract local Kenyans. We’re seeing a lot of Kenyans (from all classes) coming out to see their country and try the adventure activities we offer. With increased access to social media and the internet, what is available in Kenya and what others are doing in their leisure time is at people’s finger tips. It’s a bit like “keeping up with the Joneses.” Kenyans want to go out have fun and get that selfie too.

challenging, and a fun social activity. There is a negative mentality that the outdoors is a ‘mzungu’ playground (a white man thing). It is also believed to be an expensive venture, which it clearly is not. And most people would prefer visiting a resort with wi-fi, cable TV, a big bed, buffet meals, and a swimming pool. We could use more sensitization to curb these norms and get more people on their bikes, hiking over weekends, or even going for a game drive. Kenya is blessed and it’s a pity we don’t take the initiative to explore what we have. What can be done to shift tourism in Kenya from catering to foreigners to locals? More energy could be focused on the local market with customized packages affordable to locals, unlike what we have right now. Too many people think, “Why make the shift? Kenya receives an an-

Antony, why do you think more Kenyans haven’t embraced recreating in the outdoors? A big percentage of the Kenyan population spends most of their free time in a non-active environment. A proper weekend for a Kenyan means nyama choma (grilled meats) and beers with friends. It would be good to have a change to this. More outdoor participation among Kenyans is bound to promote the general health of the nation. Outdoor sports and recreational activities can be relaxing, 39



nual revenue of about $1.2 billion from foreign tourists.” But we need to promote more of local tourism because that is a growing market. About three years ago The Kenya Wildlife Service launched the “Tembea Kenya” campaign, which allowed Kenyans to visit national parks to appreciate Kenya’s beauty. In my opinion a good outdoors campaign like this would certainly promote outdoor participation among Kenyans.

James, if someone were to visit Kenya, how could they participate in supporting the local outdoor recreation economy? Go on a safari but also do some adventure sports. Book onto an adventure whether it is rafting or climbing Mount Kenya. It’s well worth it, as Kenya has one of the best rafting rivers in the world and Mount Kenya is an amazing mountain. It’s not as high as Kilimanjaro, but is far more beautiful.

James, beyond making outdoor adventures more accessible to Kenyans, what does Savage Wilderness do to give back to the local community? To start, we employ over 40 people from the local community and support local schools with buildings and books. We have trained and employed over the years more than 30 Kenyans with international guiding qualifications. Some now run their own companies and others work in schools as outdoor and environmental education teachers. The other rafting and adventure companies that have started up in the area and within Kenya are a huge source of employment. I am not taking credit for other adventure companies in Kenya—that would have always come—but we have definitely pioneered it and helped mold it.

Antony, what does the outdoors mean to you? Why do you love to be outside? The outdoors to me means relaxation. It gets my mind away from my 8-5 work routine.


Rafting on a sunny day, hiking up Mount Kenya, navigation on Mount Suswa, meeting and learning from other cultures, camping and gazing at the stars on a cloudless night, in a remote place…The outdoors has a way of surprising a person. To learn more about Savage Wilderness Safaris, visit and follow them in Instagram at @savagewilderness.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

r e v e n e v “ I’ d r a he , k s a e n o y an n a m a n ‘Ca ” ’ ? n wi n e r r a W h t e b a d States Eliz e t i n U r ic, Senio ocratic

em em an Acad e of Five D t of the c i r e m A n On Preside , and Senator andidates for C in 2020 Women United States s old 69 year




Photography and words:

JENNIFER GURECKI | @yogurecki Artwork:

ANDREA SLUSARSKI | @drawingfromnature LAUREN BELLO OKERMAN | @folklaurstudio It should come as no surprise after sifting through the pages of Sisu Magazine that our Editor, Jennifer Gurecki, has long called Kenya her second home. She first visited in 2004 to conduct research for her master’s degree and was inspired by the sheer grit and perseverance of the women she encountered. Together they co-created the social enterprise Zawadisha, a sort of Rent-A-Center for renewable energy and water products, which today is run by an all female, all Kenyan team. Her love of the outdoors continued while she traveled and worked in Kenya, allowing her to make friends with the team at Savage Wilderness Safaris. She has joined them on white water rafting trips down the Tana River, summited Mt. Kenya and snowboarded the Lewis Glacier, and most recently cycled across Africa from Nairobi, Kenya to Cape Town, South Africa (where all of the photos in the following pages were taken). In between all of this she pursued—and subsequently dropped out of—a PhD program in Sustainability at Prescott College, continuing her research in Kenya around entrepreneurial ecosystems. The following piece was adapted from one of her papers, giving her great joy in knowing that three years of doctoral level research (and subsequent student loans) weren’t fully wasted. 42

There’s no dearth of travel guides for Africa, whether you’re seeking out gorillas in Rwanda, catching waves in Senegal, or summiting Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Inside you’ll find everything you need to prepare for your trip. While making sure you’ve got the currency exchange on lock down and a phone that is ready for a SIM card switch, there’s one thing that isn’t spoken about enough when traveling through this part of the world: Packing a new perspective, particularly when you find yourself exploring the national parks and game reserves that abound across the continent. To this day there is a prevailing narrative that portrays these areas, and the rural landscape of Africa as a whole, as a timeless wilderness. Wilderness, however, is a concept created by modern civilization that requires nature to be separate from people. Its designation results in maps, fences, gates, and boundaries, all designed to keep some people in and some people out. But landscapes across Africa have co-evolved with humans. Reducing these places to wilderness, free of the imprint of people, erases the long history and culture of those who have called it home for thousands of years.

The concept of cultural landscapes can be political in nature, in particular when applied to landscapes with an indigenous presence, which for the most part have been rendered invisible. Take for example the creation of Serengeti National Park, the first official national park in East Africa designated by the British. The people who were kept out were the Maasai, a tribe that inhabited modern-day Tanzania and Kenya for thousands of years. As the British were forming the parks in an effort to conserve land and wildlife, they were cultivating their own ideal of wilderness. It was more nature production, not nature protection. What these early conservationists did not realize is that they were not dealing with wilderness; rather, it was a cultural landscape in which the land and the people were intertwined. The belief that these regions of Africa were pristine and empty wilderness was a mythical creation of the British. It was only made possible by relocating thousands of Africans and denying them (while ironically taking for themselves) human agency in shaping the landscape. By systematically removing the local people from their land, they were creating a “nature” that catered to the Western gaze. It was commonly believed then, as it is now, that the Maasai existed within a primitive and undeveloped form of social order. The work of Garrett Hardin in his 1968 publication The Tragedy of the Commons only furthered this perception. In it he argued that those who rely heavily on ecological systems to support their livelihoods were not able to engage in self-governance that would result in rules and norms to prevent the overuse of the shared pastures where they allowed their animals to graze. He could not have been more incorrect. The Maasai, along with most pastoralists across the continent, have always engaged in selfgovernance, from deciding upon harvesting strategies, to the obligations of participants, to how rules will be monitored and sanctioned, and how conflicts would be resolved. The Maasai had influenced the ecology of the Serengeti through thousands of years of human agency. Agency is power, and that power over the land threatened the British. The representation of the Maasai as primitive and destructive was necessary in




order for the British to maintain and promote their own civility. They had to have someone and something to work against in order to justify their presence on the continent. Subsequently, the Maasai were unable to continue with the practices that had allowed them to be resilient and live far more harmoniously with the land than they do today. Strategic resource areas—dry season highlands or swamplands and salt licks—were turned into national parks, reserves, or conservation areas. And interestingly enough, areas that were considered to be wilderness by the colonialists were in fact highly managed by the Maasai as a way to maintain resiliency. The real tragedy of the commons was the lack of understanding shown by colonial and contemporary Kenyan government officials of the importance of sustaining these social-ecological systems. 44





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Top 5 Tips for Traveling Across Africa JENNIFER GURECKI | @yogurecki When sitting in the saddle for eight hours a day, not only do you come up with novel ideas like starting a print magazine (check out Issue One of Sisu Magazine for the full story on this), you also reflect on everything you’ve absorbed over the years while living and working in Africa. Here are five tips—that I’ve learned through too many cringe worthy experiences—that you may not find in your aver age guide book.


Day 64 of our 70 day cycling trip across Africa, in Kamieskroon, South Africa, just before we zipped up our tents and walked into this small town to find anything sweet we could sink our teeth into.

Do everything and anything when you can. Westerners are


so accustomed to nearly everything happening on time and the way they are meant to be. But Africa is unpredictable, and it thrives in chaos, whether you like it or not. Things that I’ve learned to do when I can: Take advantage of all power outlets if you need to charge because the electricity might be out for days. Have running water? Wash your knickers and grab that shower. If you come across a cash machine that doesn’t look dodgy, withdraw because the next ATM might be out of service. Even if your trip is only 6 hours, take the 6 am bus because the 2 pm bus could take 12 hours. You get the idea...seize the moment so to say, as anything that is available to you today may not be there tomorrow. 49



Day 15, our last day in Tanzania as we make our way into Malawi, and just one of many moments when you realize that bikes aren’t just fun and games, they are tools that people depend upon for their livelihood.


Don’t sanitize or snack in public. Think about the last time you shook someone’s hand in the United States. Did you immediately pull out your hand sanitizer? I highly doubt it. You likely went on with your day because you didn’t perceive that person as being dirty. Far too many times I’ve seen mysophobic tourists pull out their hand sanitizer to give it a quick “clean” after a hand shake or hug in Africa. What’s equally as bad is saying how hungry you are in front of people who likely don’t know where their next meal will come from and then subsequently reaching for that bar in your bag. If we have to get into why all of this is so offensive, please don’t take your next vacation to the continent. Day 58, exploring the dirt roads of Namibia, stopping to snap a quick pic while I devour the biltong I’ve stashed away in my frame pack.



T rying to do good is not the same as actually doing good. There are quite a few very well-intentioned people who are actually doing more harm than good. Here’s how to not be that person. To start, don’t bring pencils or shoes or clothing from the West to give to people in Africa. You are undercutting the local economy, only exacerbating poverty and suffering. These goods are available in even the most rural areas of Africa, and all that you have that locals don’t is a heap of money in your pocket. So buy it from a local, ideally female-run kiosk, and help create jobs, send children to school, and build a thriving local economy. Moving on…Mama Mercy, one of my dear friends and owner of the Ndoto Bandas near Tsavo National Park in Kenya, said to me once that free things have ruined Africa. And she’s right. (Think about all of those water bottles and USB drives and bags and other random shit that you are gifted on the daily. How much does it mean to you?) Just because it’s free doesn’t mean that is has value, so before you purchase goods and deliver them to churches or schools or villages, work with a reputable local organization to find out what they really need, and try to read through the lines.

Trying to decide between a left turn and right turn after choosing to cycle on a route that hasn’t fully been sorted. Spoiler: We went the right way.

I heard her voice over all the rest, encouraging me to pull over and say hello. Hello of course meant buy something, which I was more than happy to do. Those bananas sure hit the spot.




Day 28, Zambia, pulling over to chat with some dudes about their sweet motorcycle. Do you blame me?


Don’t judge. It’s easy and basic to believe, for example, that locals don’t care about the environment when you look at the plastic waste and trash strewn along the streets. It’s harder to imagine what it must be like to have no one come to your house and fetch your trash. The problem isn’t necessarily that you need to educate people on the importance of single use plastic or recycling or placing their trash in a rubbish bin, it might be a serious lack of infrastructure. Think about what the real issues are and act from a place of truly understanding the social, political, environmental, and economic forces at play.


Day 60, Namibia, on what was a stretch of dirt road that reminded us just how brutal the elements can be if you aren’t prepared.


Move away from the single story. The poor don’t need your pity, they need your partnership. One way to offer that up is to embrace and understand their richness and resources, without romanticizing or simplifying the reality of their lives. In the West we focus on financial capital as the primary indicator of success and happiness. But there are other forms of capital accumulation that play a significant role in the health of individuals and our communities, such as social capital, the relationships and networks that we build and leverage; natural capital, which includes resources such as water, fertile soil, and the sun’s energy; and human capital, the intellectual capacity that sparks innovation and creativity. When we consider all of the various forms of capital that are essential to healthy, thriving communities, we can help change the narrative about the poor. 55



poetry in motion SYDNEY ZESTER | @runwildandbepoetry

CONUNDRUM she hated looking at the stars and feeling so small yet every night, she would set out and run along the shore looking to the ocean, asking it to please make her feel like a dot in it all


Original Artwork by LATASHA DUNSTON | @jitterbug_art 57




when the cows come home An interview with:

TIBBY PLASSE | @paradisespringsfarm

Biodynamics is a holistic, ecological, and ethical approach to farming, gardening, food, and nutrition. We wanted to learn more about this somewhat controversial philosophy and method of farming so we asked Tibby Plasse to share her experience tilling the soil on Paradise Springs Farm, a biodynamic dairy based in the Teton Valley of Idaho that was recently ranked No. 1 in the country by The Cornucopia Institute for Organic Practices.

photo by aSchlinger photography

What is the difference between biodynamic and organic farming? Biodynamic farming is based off a series of lectures delivered nearly 100 years ago by the founder of anthroposophy, Dr. Rudolf Steiner, in what is now Poland at the turn of the century. Dr. Steiner is more widely recognized as the godfather of the Waldorf School movement (Waldorf schools are called Steiner schools everywhere but the US). He was approached by farmers who were seeing a shift in the capacity of their soils to produce. The preparations and holistic management practices of biodynamic farming provide a clear path forward for us to enliven the soil and bring it back into fertile capacity by repopulating a certain percentage of microbes per square inch in the soil and providing enough nitrogen. Essentially, biodynamic agriculture asks that every operation exist to accomplish itself as a single organism, becoming an independent closed system. A closed system would mean that the farm would be able to satisfy all its needs from within itself with no need for any inputs. So for example, if you need compost, you have a cow or if you need feed, you grow it. The requirements for livestock and animals is that they exist as they were originally intended to on this planet. Animals are free-range, have their horns and tails, and exist in a living environment that serves them to be their highest self. Biodynamics is a dirty practice. It’s about the soil, whereas USDA Organic might not include soil. And unfortunately it can include a list of ingredients such as corn syrup or additives. Organic food was intended to steward clean food, but like everything 59



“ Biodynamics is a way of

healing the earth. “

else it has come down to dollars and cents. In this case it’s licensing fees and what’s the lowest common denominator on farm inputs to meet the certification requirements. Certifications shouldn’t be the lowest expectation but a standard for the healthiest way to consume food. Biodynamic farming has been criticized by the scientific community of being grounded in a philosophy rather than proven methods. How do you respond to this? Biodynamic farming delivers on what organic promises. Biodynamic farming is all about the health of the animals and the soil. Its mission is to be a regenerative support system and is structured as a complete system. Unfortunately (and Dr. Steiner recognized this), we still don’t have all the scientific tools to reflect the process. What we currently can use is observation. You begin to see the difference in the plants, their color, their vitality, and their growth. Then you see a difference in the personality and energetic presence


of the animals, their availability, their calmness, their integration. Then you see the wild life return. There isn’t a biodynamic farmer or gardener who doesn’t see the emergence of the true natural world begin to populate the farm once more. Farming is all about observation. When to plant, when to harvest, when to breed, when to calve, how to improve the process, the yield, how to fix the equipment, why is it broken––you are aware of every component of your farm 24 hours a day. What role does biodynamic farming play in food sovereignty? We exist outside of the economy to some degree as a closed system does not need to be a part of the commodities and subsidies games. Small farms serve their communities. And, if it’s a true single farm organism, then the farm itself is a sovereign nation. How do you stand in solidarity with the communities that are disallowed from celebrating their local food because of

“ The power to make change resides with the consumer.

And the truth is, nothing will ever taste as good as







oranges. ”

forced displacement at the hands of settler-led or corporate-engineered takeover of rural lands, seeds, and livelihoods? As I said earlier, biodynamics is a way of healing the earth. Dr. Steiner’s meditations came from a focus on peasant traditional cultures and their practices. Agriculture and community sustainability are all based on living in harmony with the earth, the weather, the soil, the animals. There’s no question that the land stores the scars of many agricultural and social injustices. Part of the role of the preparations is to help us heal those scars. Imagine if every disaster site was treated to heal, not just barricaded off. The greater biodynamic community around the world, and the BDA here in the USA, is spending a lot of time exploring the conversation with Indigenous and traditional cultures. There’s a growing voice for traditional culture in the farming community as a methodology most akin to how Indigenous cultures interact with the land and natural rhythms of the planetary calendar. How can people vote with their fork? Spend the money on better food that’s better for you. If you don’t support these chemical assembly lines disguised as food production, then the opportunity arises to make a different decision to choose better. Special order the products at your store and expose the manager to something else. Take advantage of online availability and spend the dollars on independent farmers. If you’re willing to support them with a few extra dollars, the whole economy changes. The power to make change resides with the consumer. And the truth is,

“ Agriculture and community sustainability are all based on living in harmony with the earth, the weather, the soil, the animals.”




“ Truly nutrient dense food makes such a







nothing will ever taste as good as a biodynamic apple sauce, cheese, or oranges. What are you most proud of with your work on the Farm? For me personally it’s seeing the effect of a truly nutrient dense food make such a difference in so many people’s lives. I chuckle when I make this comment but it’s actually quite serious and grounded. You find the milk as a solution to a problem because you’re sick, or you find our milk because you know too much and will not drink anything else or serve anything else to your family. Nursing moms, folks who are lactose intolerant, people who grew up on farms with their own calves who miss the cream, autoimmune issues, inflammation issues––it’s a big list of people who are looking for solutions. Tibby Plasse moved to the Tetons to snowboard and write; but instead became the dairy wife at Paradise Springs Farm, a biodynamic and organic raw dairy, rated #1 in the country for organic practices by the Cornucopia Institute. She continues to freelance write and is the co-founder of Vortex Certification. Learn more at and @paradisespringsfarm. This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. 62

Snowghosts of Our Friends

W hy M o u ntai n Tow n Su ici d e Rates Ar e O n Th e Ris e

LISA SLAGLE | @wheeliecreative

It was a day that started like so many others. I ordered an Americano and started the drive up Little Cottonwood Canyon to host a photography workshop. My phone vibrated in my pocket. Thinking it was one of the workshop participants I pulled it out, only to see that it was one of my oldest and best friends. He simply said, “Sarah* took her own life last night.” I stopped chewing my breakfast as reality set in. Our original crew from Crested Butte, Colorado was now smaller by one. The person with whom we used to sling pizza, hike barefoot, and flail to live bluegrass was gone. I imagined the last minutes of her life and wondered if I could have stopped her. By being nicer. Or more helpful. Or there. When friends fall, we want to pick them up. And I’m not the only one experiencing this. Lots of our friends are falling: •

According to the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics’ Study of Suicide Mortality by State (2017), Montana currently has the highest suicide rate in the nation, followed by Alaska, Wyoming, New Mexico, Idaho, and Utah (The Rocky Mountain states have earned the moniker “The Suicide Belt” because the suicide rate is over two times the national average in these states).

According to Vail Daily, Vail (population 5,483) had 15 suicide deaths in 2017.

According to the Crested Butte News, in 2017, Gunnison County (population 16,939) had eight suicide deaths and 77 total attempts reported.

I looked back at photos of my fallen friend. Snowboarding. Walking dogs. Partying. Usually wearing a sundress, oversized skate shoes, and a flat brim. I always admired how hard she worked. I couldn’t believe that she wanted it to end like this. So I started doing research. I called in an expert, Brie A. Moore, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist and Founder & CEO of The Courage Project to get her take on things. She told me that we have to start talking about mental health if we want things to change. So here we go. While there are many theories on why suicide is on the rise in mountain towns, experts attribute the statistics to a few common themes that contribute to the struggles of mountain life. As mountain dwellers, when it comes to mental health, we are all likely to have five things going against us just for living in the places that allow us to do what we love.





According to The Renshaw Theory, coined by Perrey Renshaw, M.D., a neuroscientist at the University of Utah investigating brain chemistry at altitude, our brain chemistry actually changes at increased elevations. At lower elevations, the human brain relies on serotonin for happiness. Serotonin is a hormone and a neurotransmitter that regulates our moods, often dubbed “the happy chemical.” At altitude, there is an evident decrease in serotonin and an increased production of dopamine. Dopamine is our pleasure-seeking neurotransmitter, giving us higher highs and lower lows.That feel-good dopamine rush is why stomping a cliff or getting “likes” on your latest social post all feel like a high five inside our brains. On the flip side, these spikes also lead to lower lows, like that feeling of having no friends, not feeling good enough, or feeling too embarrassed to admit how we’re really living. RISK-TAKING TENDENCIES

People who enjoy the action sports lifestyle of mountain town living are often quite comfortable with risk. According to The International Journal of Physical Education, Sports and Health, sensation seeking seems to be more relevant for sports that involve high levels of perceived personal risk. Think about standing on top of a big line on skis. Or mountain biking through a gnarly rock garden. It seems that these risky behaviors also lend themselves to mountain dwellers actually going through with suicide in dark times, when an attempt is not just an attempt. OFF-SEASON

As if working two to three jobs to afford to live in paradise isn’t enough, every time the snow melts, off-season arrives with a thud. Moore attributes greater volatility to greater stress. Not only does off-season put immense financial stress on mountain towners, but it also lends itself to emotional shift as dreams go unrealized, friends migrate back to where they came from, and relationships often end during this time of transition. According to, in the U.S., the highest suicide rates are in the spring. The seasonal shift and geographic isolation of mountain towns is a tough issue. PREVALENCE OF PARTY VIBES

Often, mountain towns attract those risk takers from earlier who also enjoy the apres lifestyle. Sometimes, that apres lifestyle turns extreme, too. Most ski towns are proud of their party culture, and 64

alcohol and drugs are normalized, if not celebrated. Tailgate beers. Summit beers. Chairlift beers. It is so easy to justify rewarding ourselves with alcohol, however, experts link the elevated prevalence of substance abuse with increased suicide rates in mountain states. Moore notes that substance abuse is likely a factor in half of all suicides. PATCHWORK SUPPORT SYSTEM

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, mountain towners likely moved to the mountains alone, often to abandon the 9 to 5 and place their outdoor experiences above everything else. The traditional network of family, childhood friends, and siblings is gone, and this often leads to people feeling lonely and not having a strong enough support system of deep connections to turn to, which Moore says all can protect against suicide. The transient nature of mountain towns also does not help the situation. I vividly remember an off-season bartending shift where a 20-something female drank alone, sobbing at my bar because all her friends just moved away, and between tears she said she was the only one left. I remembered sliding a beer across the bar to her and feeling like I could relate. With empathy in our hearts and altitude in our brains, we can always relate. Which leaves me wondering: As ski bums, climbers, cyclists, hot spring-loving hippies, and mountain dwellers who check every warning box on the list, are we all doomed? Is the situation so predetermined by our mailing addresses that we are simply setting ourselves up and waiting for shit to hit the fan? No. There’s something better inside of all of this. Our ski town markings mean that amazingly, somehow, within all the diversity in the world and within all the different paths humans can take, you made it to the mountains. That means you have five things in common with everyone you meet. Next time you feel isolated or defeated or out of money with nothing to show for it but a goggle tan and a torn ACL, just know that you and your struggles are important. You are not alone. Moore emphasized that if you are struggling with thoughts of suicide, you can find help through seeing a psychologist. “Reaching out for help is an act of strength,” she said. “There are other ways to

alleviate suffering.” And to all of you who might be on the receiving end of a phone call or text from someone in crisis, Moore said that if someone indicates they are considering suicide, listen and take their concerns seriously. “Don’t be afraid to ask direct questions about their plans. While people may be hesitant to ask, research shows this is helpful,” she said. “Let them know you care, that they are so important to you, and they are not alone. Encourage them to seek help immediately from a knowledgeable professional. Don’t leave them alone.” Highs and lows are real. Loving going fast, jumping off cliffs, and seeing what we are made of is real. Off-season scrappiness is oh-so real, and so is the party culture. Trying to slap together a support system that cares about deeper issues than rope drops and tourists in their secret campsites is real, too. These mental health issues are real. We all face them. Some loudly, some silently, and some underneath flat brims, but we all face them. Let’s face them together. In crisis? Get help now by calling 911. Need more information or resources? Need to help a friend? Call 1-800-273-TALK or visit *Names have been changed to protect and respect the family and friends.




who’s in charge? An interview with:

lynsey dyer | @lynseydyer In Issue One of Sisu Magazine, we sat down with Lynsey Dyer, professional big mountain skier and cofounder of the non-profit SheJumps, to share her thoughts on how to control your own narrative and tell your own story. For Issue Two, we are diving into the pressures that Lynsey has faced as an athlete and how she’s coped with the stress before it turned into something unmanageable and unrecognizable.

How do you parse out your self care and work when your work is what most people do for self care? Exactly. Where the heck is the perspective? I ask that all the time and in relation To what? To whom? What’s normal? What’s work? What is self care anyways? It can be very confusing but the answer is as easy as listening to my needs and making it ok to feel what I feel without outside affirmation or acceptance. Of course I had to learn the hard way. There is no manual for this way of life, so I have to check in with myself to see if and when I need a break and to make sure I’m doing things for the right reasons versus being pressured by what others might be doing. I take baths as meditation and to warm up from all the time in the cold. I make breathwork, sleep, and exercise a priority. I allow myself creative time for art, time with my loved ones, and space to dance by myself. It’s taken a lot to find balance but it’s possible. If you’re being kind and honest to yourself, life is good.


What do you do when your career— skiing—becomes the source of anxiety and stress? Skiing is one of the things that saves me when I’m down or anxious. I guess you could say skiing IS my anti-depressant. I have been saddened by the situations ski filming has put me in. I have been disappointed by injuries and felt pain from comparing myself to others but the skiing itself––that’s

I’ve had to walk away from film companies and billionaires offering opportunities for the wrong reasons. always been the payoff. It’s always been a cure to what ails me by bringing me back to the moment and making me breathe. Yes, I’ve struggled to stay warm and mentally focused standing on top of lines in bad and forced conditions waiting for light or filmers. I’ve been disappointed with ugly group dynamics, or sponsors who don’t follow through on payment promises and left me in debt. I’ve had to walk away from film compa-

nies and billionaires offering opportunities for the wrong reasons. I’ve experienced it all, but the skiing is what keeps me showing up. It’s always been the payoff, regardless of any outcome or popularity contest. I truly truly love skiing and I am so grateful to continue to be able to make it a priority. How do you personally cope with being overwhelmed and stressed? I take on less. I make sure I am getting good sleep. I go outside and exercise. I breathe. I recognize that stress is a drug that can make us feel important and it’s often self created. Once I realized it wasn’t my favorite way to exist, I worked to simplify and become comfortable not having to do everything and be everywhere to feel worthy or enough. I make time for things that bring me joy like art, being in nature, and time with my man. I also do my best to

make sure I’m running my own race, not someone else’s and I’m not perfect either. It happens. How do you handle the pressures imposed on female athletes in particular to represent themselves in the media and on social in a way that caters to the male gaze? When I was a young ski racer and got my first taste of the politics of human behavior, my dad said, “Let your skiing do the talking.” That statement has stayed with me when large financial offers have come in exchange for posing for alcohol companies, Maxim, FHM, Playboy, and even in social media. The patriarchy loves to sexualize female athletes in magazines and that blatant sexism is baked into the algorithms. Many women are selling their sexuality to grow a following and though it seems




to be working in the short-term, it comes with heavy consequences. It’s easy to take the money or celebrate the exposure, but when we sell our sexuality for opportunities or likes on the gram we do ourselves a disservice and we continue the paradigm that keeps women objectified and small. Here’s my suggestion to girls and women who are striving to make it without selling out: Keep showing up to be a better athlete. Athletic accomplishments look different to different people, and you shouldn’t have to be a pro athlete to be able to enjoy the outdoors. But it’s our accomplishments in the mountains that should be celebrated, not our looks. In the words of Jerry Rice, “Today I will do what others won’t, so tomorrow I can accomplish what others can’t.” It’s sad to know that a bikini pic gets you more recognition than a physical achievement. But that personal accomplishment will bring you genuine confidence, your friends and acquaintances will be the real kind, and the power the mountain gives you will illuminate all the other parts of your life. It may take many years but if you truly love what you’re doing, you’ll rise and you’ll have genuine support from those around you. The patriarchy wins when we buy into the game and sell ourselves for our sexuality. It’s time to play our own game, know our value, and be the change we want to see, versus getting a million strangers to salivate over a fantasy. The mountains don’t care what you look like, where you came from, or how much money you have. They kick everyone’s ass equally. In the mountains you don’t have to be perfect, you just have to be strong. I want all women to know their authentic power regardless of whether or not their thighs touch, what color their skin is, or where they come from. If you’re willing to do the real work hit me up! I’m here to help. This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.


“You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting. You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.� ~ Mary Oliver, from

Wild Geese American poet, National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize winner 1935-2019




Be seen

Photo Essay:

DEVAN BRIDSON | @don_and_dog

Devan Bridson is a fashion designer who grew up in a tiny farm town in Illinois. As a child, she remembers camping and fishing with her father and papa. Those two wonderful men sparked the love for the wild world in her heart. That love for the outdoors has inspired her to backpack, rock climb, snowboard, and canoe. As she began to harness her creative spirit into fashion design, she became committed to protecting this wild world instead of harming it. She’s on a mission of balancing two opposing forces and hopes to use her craft to better this world.


he playfulness in our souls should not be mistaken for weakness.

I am an outdoor guide who loves getting my hands dirty, literally. I continue to navigate the complexities of working in a male dominated industry. Stereotypes persist. Internalized misogyny abounds. Women are too “fragile” or “soft” or not as skilled as their male counterparts in the outdoors. These misconceived notions of women not being able to lead effectively in the outdoors can actually make situations dangerous. So what’s a girl to do? Suit up and stand up. You know your shit. Spread your cape and strut your stuff.


The Inspiration Behind “ be seen " FORCE THEM TO SEE YOU When designing this garment my initial thoughts were to create something that someone would already want to have in an outdoor setting, like a durable rain jacket. I designed a coat that would inconspicuously hide the super cape. Just as Wonder Woman donned her cape in a demonstration of power and finesse, you also can command everyone’s attention by unbuttoning the snaps and voilà! The cape unfurls before your very eyes. I know not everyone is into sewing like I am, which is why the DIY pattern is a simple cape that could be cut out of a piece of fabric. The vision behind the purpose of the cape still remains, but with a simplified pattern you too can create something that will remind you to stand strong, it might also come in handy as a towel or blanket for your outdoor excursions.

Thank you to Upcycle It Now for providing the recycled fabric used in this project. Upcycle It Now is a mother/daughter owned business, born out of a shared entrepreneurial spirit and steadfast determination to become sustainability change agents by partnering with textile companies to upcycle their textile waste into beautiful, high quality and functional products for the active lifestyle. Learn more about their work at www.





“ be seen � cape


1. Find a piece of fabric that is 24 inches x 36 inches. If you are crazy like me, quilt together a piece of fabric that size. 2. Fold the piece of fabric in half lengthwise. 3. Measure down 4 inches from the top of fold (A). 4. Measure across the top 2.5 inches (B). 5. Cut a curved line connecting points A and B. 6. Measure up from the bottom 6 inches and mark outer edge. 7. Cut from folded edge to the 6 inch mark on the side. SEWING 1. Find a piece of fabric that is 25 inches by 36 inches. 2. Follow steps 2-7. 3. Fold over .5 inches on each raw edge and sew a hem.


24 In

2 2 1/




4 Inc


36 In


30 In


“When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.� ~ Audre Lorde American writer, feminist, womanist, librarian, and civil rights activist 1934-1992 73



C lea r ing, H ea ling, a nd Pl a nning How to use Chinese Medicine and the Fi ve El ement s to L i ve mo re H o l i sti c a l l y SAMANTHA ROMANOWSKI | @smilingsamantha


idn’t stick to your New Year’s resolutions? This is a good time to re-think your goals and make a new plan. In the spring, we have an opportunity to look at old patterns with a new awareness. It can be a fresh start, a time of re-awakening. It’s an opportunity to clear the past, make space for the future—to formulate plans and determine our direction for the coming year and to take action. We can release the stagnant, dormant winter energy and wake up the mind, body, and spirit. When thinking about the emerging spring through the lens of the five elements, we recognize that it’s the season of rebirth, creation, and development. Spring’s element is Wood; it is responsible for the rising of energy, new ideas, and mental clarity. This elements gives us inspiration and the desire for life. When we nourish the aspects of a particular element during its season, we are more equipped to withstand the stresses of that shift and more adept at maintaining the harmony and balance of our Qi. Nourishing your spring energy and the Wood element will help start the cycle of life in a fresh, exhilarating way. Here are a few ways to take advantage of the spring energy and nourish the Wood element aspect of your being.

Sweat and Stretch The Wood element corresponds to our ligaments and tendons. These vital tissues hold us together; they give us strength and flexibility. Nourishing this part of our physical body through a cleansing sweat and stretching will build vitality and endurance. Make it full body, fun movement—dancing, swimming, or vinyasa yoga will all put the “spring” back into your step.

Brush Into Balance Re-awaken the body’s largest organ, our skin, after a long winter nap with dry brushing. This practice exfoliates and encourages new skin cells to grow, while at the same time improving circulation (which 74

also increases energy) and helps the body detoxify. Think of it as “spring cleaning” your skin.

Sip Sour Drinks Sour is the flavor of spring and it stimulates the liver, which can often get overloaded and overworked with the heavy, rich foods of winter. Incorporating a small amount of sour foods and beverages into your spring diet will reawaken your digestion by nourishing the liver and encouraging the movement of stagnant Qi. Try drinking warm water with lemon first thing in the morning or incorporating herbal teas like dandelion, burdock, or nettle into your daily diet.

Grab Some Greens Green is the associated color of spring, and harnessing the energy of spring greens is easy since they are so plentiful at this time of year. Greens are cleansing, building and nourishing for the body, and packed with vitamins and minerals. Add small quantities of raw greens like sprouts, microgreens, or leafy greens (think mustard greens, dandelion, and miner’s lettuce) or larger quantities of cooked greens (think sautéed spinach or kale) to nourish the Wood element and balance your Qi.

Breathe to Ease Emotions Anger is the emotion connected to the Wood element. Suppressing anger (or any emotion) will lead to a state of dis-ease within the body. Emotions, like anger, rise into the chest. By slowing and focusing on the breath we can bring our emotions down into the abdomen and release them, preventing stagnation. Deep abdominal breathing also encourages mental relaxation and allows the mind to expand and open, inviting clarity and space for focus. This mental relaxation is important for the Wood element, especially during spring, since this is the time to stimulate new growth in relationships, work, and ourselves.


his is a fantastic recipe to bring in spring— it moves Qi stagnation, it’s warming, and it benefits the Stomach, Spleen, and Liver. You can make this recipe to use as a dip for entertaining or keep on hand in the fridge to add to sandwiches or to top off a salad.

M ed iter ra nea n B a s i l D i p Adapted from “Recipes for Self-Healing” by Daverick Leggett

Ingredients 2 medium eggplants 4 bell peppers (any colors will work) 1 bulb garlic 2 TBSP olive oil 2 TBSP red wine vinegar 6 spring onions 1 cup fresh basil 1/2 tsp salt Black pepper Paprika Directions 1. Preheat the oven to 450. 2. Make a few small slits in the eggplant and slice the top off the garlic. Put eggplant, whole peppers and garlic on a greased baking sheet. Turning the peppers occasionally, bake for 20-30 minutes. Remove vegetables when peppers are blackened. 3. While you let the eggplant and garlic cool, place the peppers in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap to sweat for at least 10 minutes. This loosens the skin, making it easier to peel. 4. Peel the skin from the peppers, remove the insides, and chop finely. 5. Scoop the flesh from the eggplant and the pulp from the garlic into a bowl, along with the peppers. Pulse all ingredients in a food processor until smooth. 6. Chop basil and spring onions, add to smooth vegetables. 7. Whisk together olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Add to vegetable mixture. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. 8. Sprinkle with paprika and decorate with basil leaves. 9. Best served at room temperature.


uring the spring, allergies can flare. A great practice to keep your nasal passages clear is neti pot. This practice can also help when you feel like you might be coming down with a cold. But really, at any time of year, breathing freely through both nostrils helps aid in the flow of energy throughout the body—this will help prevent stagnation of Qi. You can find a neti pot at any drugstore. Adapted from The Wellspring School for Healing Arts

N eti Pot I ns tr u c tio ns Try this in the shower at first to get used to it. You can also use less salt at the beginning, as it might be drying. It might feel weird initially, but you’ll become more comfortable with practice. 1. Mix 1⁄4 tsp. of sea salt and lukewarm water (preferably spring or filtered) in your neti pot. 2. Bring the spout to your upper nostril and bend forward with your head tilted to the side and slightly forward. Tilt the neti pot to allow the water to flow into the nostril. Go slow at first! 3. As the water flows through the upper nostril, breathe evenly (through your mouth) and adjust your head position to allow water into the nostril. (It might come into your mouth too, this is ok, but not ideal. Try readjusting your head position.) 4. After emptying the pot, blow freely through both nostrils to clear the nose of excess water and mucus. Do not close off one nostril when doing this, as it could force water back into the Eustachian tube and into the ear. If there are any problems in clearing the nostrils, kneel down and bring your forehead to the floor and again blow freely through both nostrils. 5. Repeat steps 1-4 with the other nostril. Samantha Romanowski, aka Sam, is an Amma therapist and certified holistic nutritionist in Oregon City, OR. Although she is endlessly fascinated by Chinese medicine and truly loves her work, she also loves to explore. In her free time, you can find Sam hiking around the PNW or planning her next overlanding expedition. (Alaska 2020!) She also really loves to bake and believes that her sourdough loaf would totally impress Paul Hollywood. (She’d be stoked to share her recipe with you.) Find out more about Sam and her practice at 75




get it together


financial cents Hsin-cheng Kuo |

When we plan an expedition to a new location, whether it’s a backpacking trip or a ski tour, most of us pick up a map first. Too bad we don’t take the same care in planning for our financial health. Having a financial plan is like building a map to lead you on the trail to financial well-being. Hsincheng Kuo is a financial planner based in Portland, Oregon who knows a thing or two about making your money be a source of joy rather than a pain point. Tell us a little bit about your day job. The good, the bad, and the ugly. Being a financial advisor, I am often asked why I would want to put myself through this in a male dominated industry. The professional answer is that I have a passion for helping members of our community make better financial decisions. However, the personal answer is that I am a very stubborn person and I want to make a shift in the community to break the stereotypical image of an Asian woman. In the best parts of my day to day work, I get to help answer questions anywhere from, “How much money should I have in cash in case of emergency?” to “I want to retire next year. What do I do?” However, not every day I get to play a financial planning super hero. Often people think I am just another heartless salesperson pushing mutual funds and insurance products. We live in a society where people are very well trained by the media to consume for immediate gratification. People don’t want to plan. People don’t want to save and prioritize.


People want the magical silver bullet. I spend a significant portion of my time earning the trust of people who are inherently suspicious of anyone working in my field. I feel that I share a similar dilemma with an honest auto mechanic who must break through the inherent mistrust of the average consumer and build the relationship over time and through results. You have an incredible story about how you fell in love with numbers. How did your mother instill this in you from a very early age? I grew up in a very traditional Taiwanese family where the occupations approved of by my parents were lawyers, engineers, doctors, and accountants. (My parents are still telling themselves I am an accountant so they have a better story when chatting with neighbors.) My mom is a homemaker. She day traded on the side to earn extra cash since my dad started his own business in construction. Back in the 90s, television stations broadcasted stock market performance after the news at noon. My mom would put me in front of the TV while she cooked lunch for the

Money—or lack thereof—can cause people tremendous stress. Talk to us about financial health and why it’s important. One of the things I have heard most often when discussing financial goals with people is, “I don’t want to be stressed about money anymore.” A friend shared with me once that she had to check her online banking constantly to make sure she left enough cash in the checking account to avoid an overdraft charge and pay all her bills on time to avoid late fees. She started to develop anxiety and obsessively checked her phone for notifications. We usually don’t notice our financial health until we become unhealthy financially. It is similar to the way many people only start exercising or dieting because of significant life events. Financial planning helps you treat the symptoms by finding the root cause of the conditions. A good financial advisor helps you develop good habits and not make the big mistakes because sometimes we only get to make the decision once. Where can we start if we’re ready to get our finances in shape? There are three things we recommend to help get people started: First, have a cash reserve in a savings account that could cover at least three months of your living expenses. Second, spend no more than what you take home. Lastly, discuss risk management strategies with professionals to protect your health, income, and the people you love.

Let’s get beyond basic for those of us who are looking to level up. What are some of the tangible ways that people can find financial freedom? I would ask what financial freedom means to you. The bottom line is everything is a trade-off. We could all retire soon if we only needed $20 a day to live on for the rest of our lives. To achieve financial freedom, I would have a honest conversation with myself to find out what the most important things in life are. What do you want in life? What are your non-negotiables? Then, talk to a professional planner, such as my team, to quantify what it takes to get there and put together an action plan. When you’re not drooling over spreadsheets, what do you do to stay balanced and healthy? I love doing spreadsheets. In addition, I am a yoga practitioner. I practice hatha and alignment yoga. Traveling is also huge for me. I enjoy going to new places and immersing myself in culture and history. My life goal is to go to every country in the world. In order to achieve that goal, I have made saving to visit a new country every year part of my own financial plan. Financial planning can be for fun things that nurture your soul. It’s not just for adulting.

If you made it to the end of this article, chances are that you are interested in getting yourself into better financial health. Hsin-cheng is offering a complimentary consultation and a comprehensive financial plan with no charge to anyone who contacts her referencing Sisu Magazine. She’s an Insurance Agent at The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company that’s headquartered in Milwaukee, WI. You can find her at (And no, this is not a sponsored post.)

$ ¢


family. She would tell me to watch out for a few stock tickers. When I saw a green triangle pointing up, I had to tell her the number right next to it. When I saw a red triangle pointing down, I had to tell her the number right next to it. I saw that as a game so I started calling out numbers like a stock broker on the floor. After a while, I found my mom sometimes would be happy in the morning, sad in the afternoon, or maybe crying during the night. When I was old enough, I realized her emotions were tied to the stock market and riding that roller coaster. I always wondered if there would be someone who could help my mom so she wouldn’t be sad all the time.





liv cycling She saw something the rest of them didn’t. You. That’s why Liv founder Bonnie Tu set out to make the very best bikes for women. Frames that fit our bodies. Components that respond to our strength. And designs that defy stereotype. Check out Liv’s entire collection on their website and get excited for a Sisu + Coalition Snow + Liv Cycling collaboration this summer.

Jitterbug Art If you love Latasha Dunston’s Stop Saying Sorry print featured in this issue, you’ll love the rest of her Self Serving Collection. From plant care, to mindfulness, to real food, she’ll inspire you to take care of yourself for not just 30 days, but every damn day of the year.


mungo Inspired by the African landscape and heritage, the Itawuli is more than a towel. It’s a keepsake. Itawuli translates to towel in the Bantu language of Xhosa, and the striped detail that runs through the middle of the Itawuli makes reference to traditional woolen Basotho Blankets. Trust us, once you lay eyes on this beautifully crafted bath and beach towel, you’ll never know how you lived without it. Shop the collection on our website.

JUICY BITS Wherever you love to listen to podcasts Juicy Bits is a bi-weekly podcast produced by Coalition Snow that takes the conversations we start on the chairlift and the trail to the next level. Hosted by our Editor In Chief Jennifer Gurecki, and Coalition Snow Ambassador Jillian Raymond, it’s one of those podcasts that will make you laugh, cry, and maybe pee your pants a little bit. #juicethepatriarchy

Asking Nicely

What’s the one piece of equipment our Editor Jennifer Gurecki couldn’t live without on her cycling trip across Africa? Her Asking Nicely tee, obviously. She wore it nearly every day because if you’ve got both hands on the bars, you’ve got to make a statement somegauron

how. Shop the entire Asking Nicely collection on our website. Perfect for


by julianne

the road, trails, or that holiday dinner.




eat, drink, + be merry


ice cream

VANESSA BARAJAS | @vanessabarajas I’ve been obsessed with Limoncello for so long that making a recipe for Limoncello Ice Cream seemed only obvious. There is something so romantic about Limoncello to me. I don’t know what it is. Maybe I’ve seen Under the Tuscan Sun too many times. Who knows, but I absolutely am enamored by it and the way it tickles my taste buds with a gentle and tart sweetness.

Prep Time: 30 minutes Total Time: 2 hours Serves: 4

Ingredients limoncello ice cream

lemon curd

2 (13½-ounce/400-ml) cans full-fat coconut milk

½ cup (68 g) maple sugar

4 large egg yolks

¼ cup (20 g) grated Meyer lemon zest

½ cup (65 g) maple sugar

¾ cup (180 ml) fresh-squeezed Meyer lemon juice (about 4 lemons)

2 tablespoons raw honey

2 tablespoons raw honey

½ teaspoon vanilla extract ¼ teaspoon fine-grain sea salt 1 cup (240 ml) lemon curd (see recipe below) ½ cup (120 ml) limoncello (store-bought or homemade) 80

4 large eggs ⅛ teaspoon fine-grain sea salt 12 tablespoons (6 ounces/170 g) unsalted cold butter, cubed


For ice cream:

1. Heat the coconut milk in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, over medium heat, stirring intermittently with a wooden spoon, until it reaches a simmer. 2. Meanwhile, whisk together the egg yolks and maple sugar in a large mixing bowl until the yolks thicken and become a pale yellow. 3. When the coconut milk comes to a simmer, remove from the heat. Temper the eggs by pouring one-third of the hot coconut milk into the egg and sugar mixture, whisking continually, so the egg doesn’t begin to cook, until the coconut milk is combined. Then pour another one-third of the hot milk into the egg mixture while whisking. Once that is combined, transfer the egg mixture back to the saucepan with the remaining milk. Place the saucepan over medium-low heat and simmer until the mixture is thick enough to coat the wooden spoon, 7 to 10 minutes, stirring constantly. After the mixture is ready, pour it through a fine-mesh sieve over a clean mixing bowl. The sieve will filter out any egg that may have cooked during the process. 4. Stir in the honey, vanilla, and salt until combined. Press plastic wrap onto the surface of the mixture and place in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours or until cool. Alternately it can be placed in the freezer for 30 minutes or until cool.

5. Once the mixture is cool, stir in the lemon curd and limoncello with a whisk, mix until combined. 6. Pour the mixture into the bowl of an ice cream maker and churn it, following the manufacturer’s instructions. If firmer ice cream is desired, transfer the ice cream to a container, cover, and place in the freezer for 30 minutes or until the desired firmness is reached. Store ice cream in a covered container for up to two weeks.

For lemon curd: 1. Combine the maple sugar and lemon zest in a medium-sized bowl. Mix together with a spoon until combined; set aside. 2. In a large heatproof mixing bowl, combine the lemon juice, honey, eggs, and the sugar-zest mixture. Place the bowl over a saucepan half filled with water set over medium heat. As the water starts to simmer, stir constantly using a whisk, until the mixture thickens to a pudding texture and reaches 160°F (71°C), about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and press the curd through a finemesh sieve into a blender pitcher. Add the salt, then blend on low, adding the butter a few cubes at a time. Continue to blend after all the butter has been added; the mixture will become light and creamy. 3. Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, pressing directly on the surface. Let it set in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes to cool and thicken. The curd will stay fresh for about 1 week.


1. Special Equipment: Candy thermometer, ice cream maker. 2. Subs: ½ cup (120 ml) pure maple syrup in place of maple sugar. Whisk the yolks alone until they have lightened in color. Continue with recipe and add the maple syrup in the last step before refrigerating when stirring in the honey, vanilla, and salt. 3. For dairy version: sub 1½ cups (350 ml) of whole milk and 1 cup (240 ml) of heavy cream for the canned coconut milk. Nut-Free // Dairy-Free // Gluten-Free 81



thaT's what he said ANDREW PRIDGEN | @andrewjpridgen

mansplaining mansplained /ˈmanspleɪnɪŋ/

I figured out which modern artists to like based on hours of Netflix research. I drive a Tesla and you know this without ever having to ride in a car with me. I say things like, “This Patagonia vest warms me on the outside and on the inside” and then I list off all the socially conscious things that Yvon has done. I’ve got gold club status. I’ll mention that in line at the ter...and you prob- minal gate loud enough for at ably don’t read the least a dozen people to hear me. I am in an elevator chorNew Yorker. tling as I thumb through pictures of a bunch of my bros and the last time we got together in Austin. If you look me up on LinkedIn you will see that among my many, many professional achievements—the only ones you really need to know about are how devoted a husband and proud a father I am. You like these socks? Yeah, they draw attention. Let me tell you about where I got them.


only much, much longer, and maybe with something I think is a joke at the end. Example: “It’s not like Trump, his family, and his org have EVER been anything but self-dealing burn-it-down mastizations (<-- I’ll pronounce that like ‘masturbations’ with a ‘z’) of our worst collective self-image. But it was never going to be normal. Just like Chuck Todd’s goatee could never fix his face.” While we’re at the bar getting to know each other, I’ll tie something to someone famous or wealthy who is obscure enough so you probably won’t know them. They might not even exist: “I’m moving on from Tequila to Mezcal but not the kind they have here. I know a guy. He was the distiller who started that one with Gerber and Clooney? You ever had that? Casamigos, or as he used to say, ‘house of ‘Salud.’...It means, billionaire friends.’”

“To your health or just… health.”

For the past 27 months I’ve started all my dates by saying that in these confusing times, passion is a luxury and relationships are the result of becoming the person our parents fucked us up to be. That one plays all day. Fairways and greens.

I will always hold up a glass and say ‘Salud.’ Then I will turn and tell you it means, “To your health or just… health.”

Wanna talk podcasts? I’m going to pretend the ones I just read about in the New Yorker are the same ones that I listen to regularly. You probably haven’t heard of any of them and you probably don’t read the New Yorker.

I just started listening to Mitski and she definitely proves that longing is the most underrated emotion. It is, don’t you think?

I was recently in Asheville and had a piece of fried chicken shaped like a West Highland Terrier. If you followed me, you’d know this. When we’re talking, I may bother once in awhile to listen to you and repeat the same thing back,


So you know I’m a good one and mostly woke, I’ll mention gaslighting and what it does while I’m gaslighting you into a conversation about donor-advised funds. I’ll start every fourth sentence with the word “granted” and then contradict myself and then fake apologize for it.

Let me tell you about the job I’m leaving in June to go do my own startup. “The startup,” you ask? (You didn’t.) It’s kind of like a monthly subscription box for people with prosthetics, so they can get that fresh look. Also, I’m doing it for the troops. See, I had this buddy in high school…

Totally, no, I totally get more than three-quarters hard when I’m wearing a condom. Just kidding, I don’t wear condoms. They make my throat swell up.

“The startup,” you ask? (You didn’t.)

Coachella? Oh fuck yes. No on the fanny pack this year. Jackson Hole? Absolutely. I can slay Corbet’s all day. Hucked it a time or two with Chelsea Clinton’s husband. (We worked at the same hedge fund before I grew a conscience. He grew a goatee.) Have I told you I know one of the producers on High Maintenance and one of the vignettes was based on a time I was back in Brooklyn and we were out— stoned—looking for the best artisanal ice cream and we saw Andy Samberg and his wife what’s-her-name Newsom? And she’s a genius musician, and nothing happened, but we kept running across the same lost dog and I said, “maybe we’re the ones who are lost” and supposedly that line was in but got cut from the show. You have an HBO login, right?

Co a fu che ck lla ye ? O s. h

Yeah, that’s my vape pen. Yeah, that’s my money clip. Yeah that’s my gold-tooth grill that I think is funny. Want to try it on? Yeah, I’ve heard of that place, it’s my spot. Sometimes they have DJs in there, like legit ones, or ones on the come-up who do sets there. It’s a little played now, smelly vintage furniture, a brick wall and Brixton-wearing poseur bros with sleeve tats and forearm burns. Yeah, karaoke on Saturday before noon and Africa used to be my jam, but since Weezer got ahold of’s been more an Against All Odds version, but I re-imagine it so it sounds like if Minor Threat did it.

Do you know a good tattoo artist in Chicago? Because I’ve got a bachelorette—yeah, a bachelorette—there in a month. She’s queer and an ex and I’m friends with most of my exes. Tell me about your exes so I can make fun of them in a way that seems casual and not at all insecure or condescending. Let me tell you that Bruce Willis was my age when he guest-starred on Friends. And he still had it. His hair anyway, no? I’m thinking of a travel app called Travelina. The .io is available. I have an angel investor. It shows safe spots for women who are abroad in real time as well as trusted contacts in every town. I want to make sure you know all about the feelings I have re: Sufjan post-Call Me By Your Name and also why I’m back to drinking just pilsners.

’ve I nd hat a t ic st gifs me. as pe . co f is do ow b n me u h b r Ai t so w yo go sho

I’m chartering a flight to Hana. Yeah, the landing strip George Harrison used to use. You haven’t had fresh banana bread till you’ve had it after a morning riding a perfect left. My favorite Tabata guy is there. We can use his guest house. Airbnb is fascist and I’ve got some dope .gifs that show you how come. I’ve been on this no-sex journey along with Keto but I’m thinking of ditching both. I’ll tell you about it on the way.

You down?



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