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StoryBus Podcast: Equity in the Workplace of the Active-Outdoor Industries
22 minutes | Feb 28, 2020
Ep 1: Being Black Outdoors - Fa’al Ali and Kennedy Reddick Jr.
Fa’al Ali and Kennedy Reddick Jr. talk growing up in Crenshaw, Detroit, and rural Georgia, learning about the outdoors from Snoop Dogg’s dad, and the superpowers that allow them to navigate polarizing spaces. Our first StoryBus interview is here and we couldn’t be more excited to share it with you! More can be found on the Camber Outdoors Blog. In partnership with KEEN, we spent the entirety of the Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show 2020 collecting outdoor industry stories in the back of a tricked out 1974 motor bus. As it’s Black History Month, for the first episode we’ve chosen to honor two African Americans in the outdoors industry working towards a more inclusive outdoors: Fa’al Ali (he/him), of Eazy Media, and Kennedy Reddick Jr. (he/him), of the Greening Youth Foundation. Listen to the 20-minute conversation, in which Fa’al and Kennedy share their childhood experiences of getting outside, discuss programs that encourage community development and upward mobility, and shed light on the outdoor industries’ current approach to appealing to underrepresented demographics. Fun, informative, and full of real talk, we could listen to these two chat all day. For those who would rather read the conversation, you can find an edited transcript of this episode below. Episode Transcript: [Intro music] Host: Hello, beautiful people. Welcome to the Camber Outdoors StoryBus, powered by KEEN, where stories of inclusion and workplace equity are shared to inspire inclusivity in the outdoors and in the workplaces of the active-outdoor industries. Follow us as we take a journey into the experiences of two unique voices, chatting in the back of a vintage 1974 motor bus. Jump on board and let’s go for a ride! Kennedy: My name is Kennedy Reddick Jr. and I’m from Aurora, North Carolina. What’s up? Fa’al: I’m Fa’al Ali and I’m from Detroit, Michigan. What’s your background, man? Where do you work, live, and play? Kennedy: I play in Atlanta, Georgia; I work in Atlanta, Georgia. It’s a place that I’ve been residing in for about five years now. It’s one of those situations where I heard about a lot of things going on in the education field—there were some challenges there where it seemed like people weren’t standing by the student. I’ll say that. People weren’t standing about a student and the success of the student. I’m not really a big fan of just pushing a child through and not educating them to the full extent. I’m all about figuring out different, creative ways to get their attention and engage them throughout the day. I’m not the sit behind a desk, pass out a worksheet type educator. Fa’al: Boots on the ground! Kennedy: That’s right. Yes! Boots on the ground. Fa’al: What part of Atlanta? Kennedy: Downtown. Fa’al: I moved here from Atlanta. I was in SWATS, right across from Westlake High School. Kennedy: Oh yeah, Westlake. I definitely know where you’re talking about. Real familiar. Fa’al: I moved here from Detroit in about 10 years ago, and I came from athlete management. In Atlanta, nobody likes to do the type of stuff that I like to do outdoors. Right? We would shoot the hooch on the floaties and things like that but, you know, I’m a snowboarder and I like to be outside. So I moved here. I started my company about nine years ago—I own a multimedia production company called Eazy Media. And I’m currently in the process of opening an art gallery. So I’m just in the business of being in business. So I’m an entrepreneur, but I’m also an outdoorsy dude. Leaving Atlanta, I was like where do I go? I moved here so I could just be outside. Kennedy: Gotcha. Gotcha. The outdoors is definitely been a part of my life since I was a kid growing up in a rural town of Aurora, North Carolina. That’s all we had as far as fun. My mother used to always say, “Go outside and figure it out.” That turned into it being a safe haven for me and also therapeutic. So any time I was stressed about anything, anytime I needed to tap into my creative brain I would literally go outside and write, read—really dive into my me time and outdoors. Fa’al: Because you guys are out of the country into the more country outdoors. You know, that’s funny that you say that because that’s how I got into the outdoors. I was born and lived in L.A. until I was five and we moved to Detroit. There was no outside, right? Because I came from sixty-third and Crenshaw, I was inner-city. When I moved to Detroit, there were all these trees. Constantly out there, you know, people ask me, “How did you get into the outdoors?” And I hear from a lot of people who aren’t people of color, their experiences are different. They’re like, “Well, you know, my dad used to take me on these hikes and he would tell me about the outside and show me what kind of plans we could eat.” For people of color, our experiences don’t always end up that beautiful. Right? So my experience was that, you know, my mother had to work three jobs. And as a second-grader, I had to walk home from school and I had this key around my neck. You know, you lose the key, your neck, you gotta wait until your mama gets home at I heard you talking about on your panel, you were talking about how the company you work for tries to get people from these underserved communities by giving them the gear that they need in order to participate in the future. Now, that’s was huge and it really rang for me. I always got hand-me-downs, even as an adult, to go try new things. “Hey, you want to go?” I’m like, “Yeah, but I just don’t have the gear.” So hearing you had a program like that, what’s that about? Kennedy: We do a gear drive every year, from the beginning of March to the end of March. We’ve run a huge gear drive out here in Denver, Colorado, in Salt Lake City, Utah, and in Atlanta, Georgia. So any companies that are listening, if you want to donate any new items, any gently used items, from backpacks, sleeping bags, boots, pants, hats, tops, anything. If you’re willing to donate, we’re accepting. The students, they’re definitely putting it’s a great use out there in the outdoors. It’s giving them a bit of confidence. Like Deion Sanders says, [Laughter, while Fa’al says it with Kennedy] “If you look good, you feel good. If you feel good, you play good.” Fa’al: Yeah! I think in our community, that’s what it is. Even if you was the best baller on the court, if you have some janky shoes on, you wasn’t feeling like you were playing your best. You saw it even on the guy who has some Js on. He was nasty. Right? He was out there with the swagger. Plug the organizations so people know. Kennedy: Thank you so much. The North Face. The organization I work for is the Greening Youth Foundation, based in Atlanta right in the heart of the city, right downtown. Any time any of you guys in the city, please check us out. We have a four and a half-acre farm that we can go to as well, and it’s in the West End. It used to be one of the most, I would say dangerous, disenfranchised communities years ago. We put a four and a half-acre farm out there and we’re utilizing that space for professional development, classrooms for G.E.D. classes. Not only that, we employ students from that community, those who may have something on their records that’s preventing them from getting federal jobs, we’re hiring them there. They’re responsible for the upkeep of the farm, they’re creating different habits as far as community development goes, and they’re actually learning how to grow their own food there. We eat the food that we grow from this farm. And not only that, of course, we pass it out to all the communities. Anybody that’s a resident there, we make sure they have some as well. We have a chef come out and teach them like, “Hey, there’s different ways you can cook this food that’s more healthy eating than going up the street to you know, not to drop any names, but other places.” Fa’al: You teaching them life lessons. Kennedy: Right. Life lessons. So when they see that, they start to take care of the area. Now it’s clean, now it’s safe, because they see a lot of things happening right here. They’re providing a lot of resources in this area, so people know to protect the space and keep it up for our kids as well. Fa’al: That’s huge. I learned to garden when I lived in Atlanta on an acre in the backyard and our neighbor was Snoop Dogg’s dad, Papa Snoop. So he would be at our door at @jr__kennedy. I’m on Facebook as Kennedy Reddick Jr., I do not have a Twitter or Snapchat or anything. FB and IG, that’s where you can find me. Fa’al: Well I’m gonna follow you. Mine is @fa_eazy on IG. And on Facebook Fa’al Yamin Ali. So let’s link-up. Kennedy: That’s love. Fa’al: When do you leave? Can we go snowboarding? Kennedy: Most definitely. Let’s do it! Fa’al: I’ve got buddy passes, I’m gonna get you my card, you can’t come here and not do that. Kennedy: I will not turn that down. That’s love. Special thank you to KEEN for powering the StoryBus and making this podcast possible, as well as everyone who participated.
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