Women Who Rock

From artists and athletes to scientists and filmmakers, there have never been so many young women blazing their own adventurous paths. Here, we profile a few who are going to rock your world.

  • Christina Anderson shoots her own mountain biking and skiing trips on a GoPro Hero4.   Photo: Courtesy of Christina Anderson

  • Photo: Courtesy of Christina Anderson

  • Examples of Anderson's work.   Photo: Courtesy of GoPro (3)

How Christina Anderson Helped GoPro Enter the Zeitgeist

Meet the creative mastermind behind the tiny camera that elevated the first-person narrative and made POV fiends of us all

How’s this for a branding achievement: In making the space-survival film of the year, The Martian, Ridley Scott turned to GoPro cameras as a key storytelling tool. As Quartz points out, “GoPros had more screen time than Kristen Wiig or Donald Glover.” Watching Matt Damon’s ill-fated astronaut log his every action with the small camera, you have to wonder at how GoPro has become synonymous with first-person video capture. One woman deserves much of the credit for that: Christina Anderson.

Anderson, 38, shapes how the company’s messaging and branding evolves as its capabilities expand. As GoPro’s vice president of brand and creative services, she’s responsible for all front-facing visuals, excluding video, for the multimillion dollar company, which is no small task—especially given GoPro’s paradigm shift from hardware company (where consumers buy camera products) to media company (where consumers store and share what they create with said cameras). What her job boils down to is helping GoPro reach the point of cultural saturation that it has. 

To do this, Anderson has established GoPro as an essential tool that celebrates both the obviously awe-inspiring and the everyday. The camera, which mounts on everything from helmets to handlebars to selfie sticks, is a mainstay in adrenaline sports these days thanks to the brand’s nearly endless media stream of captured flips, splashes, crashes, and descents. But perhaps more important is Anderson’s relentless campaign to make everyone feel that their life is worthy of first-person filming. “Not everyone is a pro athlete,” she says. “Good imagery is about picking moments that are from a new perspective. For example: swinging a child around by the arms—capturing that from your point of view is such a cool moment.” That’s why, alongside daredevil surfers and mountain bikers on GoPro’s Instagram, you’ll also see kids taking a hike or a trip to the dentist.

When Anderson joined the company five years ago following stints as an art and design director at several other companies, the GoPro concept was significantly less buzz-y than it is today. It was a labor of love for founder Nick Woodman and his cousin. “I was the first creative role to come into GoPro,” Anderson says. “I took over everything that had been created to date and built a team of art directors, copywriters and editors, designers, producers, and photographers from the ground up. It’s been a lot of work, but that’s exactly what sold me on this position. That’s what makes it addicting.” 

She’s nailed the work-life balance, too, which could also help explained her drive and total resonance with the GoPro culture. Anderson recharges on Lake Tahoe’s alpine playground—you’ll find her at Squaw Valley or Kirkwood on a powder day, but she refuses to divulge her go-to singletrack—and does her best thinking on a mountain bike. And, yes, she takes a Hero4 Session on her own adventures: “It’s super small, completely waterproof with no housing, and I’m having fun exploring new angles,” she says. “It’s really a grab-and-go camera, which is nice. I don’t have to worry about jumping into a lake.” 


Now Anderson is looking ahead to an eventful 2016. On her to-do list is getting GoPro to athletes and events like the X Games, and making it look good pretty much everywhere—social media, print ads, product launches (you might remember this year’s). For that task, Anderson is turning more and more to GoPro users themselves (check out the Submit Your Photos). It gives everyday people the chance to see their special moments on, say, a billboard. “I’m excited about seeing the way the brand is changing the way people are thinking and behaving,” she says.

It’s a pretty sweet feeling to watch your passion project enter the zeitgeist—which is exactly what GoPro seems to have achieved. Anderson is wowed by the totally unexpected places the camera’s already gone. She points out the GoPro journey into space, and the Dolphin Reel, which is so otherworldly that critics questioned whether it was computer animated. “It blows my mind every time I see it. Showcasing those moments is what inspires people to get out and lead a bigger life. It’s about being whatever your own hero is.”

Anderson’s Tips for Getting a Perfect GoPro Shot

  1. Be a storyteller. The idea is to capture a narrative, an entire experience, in one shot. “It’s about where your journey is about to go; a preview of what you leave up to the imagination of the viewer.”
  2. Get intimate with the camera. Experiment with new points-of-view and think outside the box. Step out of your shooting comfort zone. “Try non-posed moments, intimate angles. Selfies are good for certain moments, but…”
  3. Set the camera on time-lapse mode. “That way you’re capturing a photo every five seconds. It guarantees you at least one moment you fall in love with.” 
  4. Frame your shots. Try the GoPro or LCD BacPac app to control the camera remotely and use the live preview function. Look for bright colored clothing that contrasts with the surroundings.
  5. Consider timing. Shoot when the sun is low to circumvent harsh lighting and minimize shadows.
  6. Seek the unexpected. Go beyond the activities you’d normally photograph. Look for hidden moments in everyday life that you might never think to capture: a walk with a child, buying produce at a market, morning coffee. 
  7. Be purposeful. Set a goal when you take a photo. Know what you want. Then review it to see if you succeeded.
Filed To: Media, Video Cameras
  • Lesley de Souza, right, on an expedition to track arapaima with radio transmitters on the Rewa River, with (from left) Rewa villagers Winston and Rudy Edwards and field assistants Jaclyn Johnston and Piper Kimpel.  Photo: Zachary James Johnston

  • A training session with Rewa villagers "on methods to collect scientific data on arapaima while with anglers. The catch and release fly-fishing program is helping Rewa Village expand their ecotourism."  Photo: Zachary James Johnston

  • "This is the largest tagged arapaima in the Rewa River drainage at over 8 feet. Finding arapaima larger than this is becoming increasingly rare throughout its range."  Photo: S. Piper Kimpel

Lesley de Souza Does Science Alongside Nature’s Giants

The multi-talented conservation biologist fears logging far more than bird-eating spiders, electric eels, or anacondas

Although she’s come across plenty of rare species in her career and even discovered two herself, conservation biologist Lesley de Souza still remembers her first encounter with an arapaima, one of the largest freshwater fish on the planet. 

While doing her PhD research on the molecular ecology of neotropical fish between 2003 and 2007, de Souza made several trips to southern Guyana. While there, she heard of the remote Rewa Village in the Rupununi savannah and wetlands region. It’s located at the juncture where the Rupununi River branches out to the Rewa River, a smaller tributary. The village is so remote that no other humans live farther upriver, and it’s reached on a two-hour bushplane trip and then three to six hours in a motorized aluminum boat, depending on river levels. De Souza assembled a research expedition to the region in 2011, with the intent of studying the aquatic life of the Rewa River. The first arapaima she spotted was five or six feet long. “Its silvery-green head slowly came out of the water, then it gently arched its back and slapped its tail with red-flecked scales back into the water—sort of dolphin-like,” she recalls. “It’s just a monster. It’s hard to believe these guys even still exist. They’re true dinosaurs.” Arapaima, which has to frequently poke its head above the surface of the water to breath air, can reach up to nine feet long and weigh more than 400 pounds. 

rewa-guyana-map.jpg

De Souza, now 38, recently wrapped up a post-doctoral position with Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. Going forward, she’ll divide her time between Guayana and the University of Illinois, analyzing her data, writing, and raising money to support her work. During her two- to three-month stints in the field, she’ll be based in Rewa, a village of about 300 people whose livelihood comes in large part from fishing and an ecolodge that attract anglers and birders. From there, de Souza also spends time camping as far as 100 miles upriver. Her trips involve a mix of research, education, and advocacy to protect the region’s resources—which include the arapaima and other rare animals like the Goliath bird-eating spider, gold, and species of trees prized for their wood—all with a focus on putting local voices first. 

Her do-it-all approach is a testament to de Souza’s hard-earned conservation savvy. Born in Brazil but raised in Alabama, she completed her undergraduate and graduate studies at Auburn University, making a name for herself as a traveling conservation biologist with a talent for storytelling. She contributes to National Geographic’s explorer blog Voices and works with a production company called Ship To Shore. “I want to be out there on the ground getting the data that could potentially impact people,” she says. “But I don’t want to do science just for science’s sake. What I see is such a decline in connectedness. But people will care if they just hear it differently.” After numerous research expeditions to South America, she’s developed a sensibility for the complexities of conservation, and sensitivity for the people impacted by these issues. 

The Rupununi region is a good case study of how she puts her values to work. The area is home to a lush rainforest and meandering network of rivers that drain into the Amazon Basin. It’s remote enough that residents rely on a healthy environment for critical needs like food and construction materials: “The forest is their backyard, their grocery store, their pharmacy, and their livelihood,” de Souza says. But it’s not so remote that outsiders like logging and mining companies are ignoring it. In fact, when de Souza first heard of the arapaima, the species was headed the way of the actual dinosaur thanks to poachers, who often sold its meat over the border to Brazil. The overharvesting had arapaima numbers dwindling to just over 400 in 2000. 

The arapaima is a top predator in the area, feeding mainly on fish and sometimes birds, so it plays a critical role keeping this ecosystem in balance. It’s also at the center of a new, sustainable form of ecotourism in the area, thanks to a sport-fishing effort pioneered by the locals, with the help of de Souza, Costa Del Mar Sunglasses, and the Indifly Foundation. Anglers are an elite group, the thinking goes, who are willing to pay for the thrill and experience of reeling in one of these rare creatures in the Amazon—even if they have to let them go after the catch. Bringing in these non-hunting tourists has helped younger people in the Rewa community stay closer to home instead of leaving for Guyana’s diamond or gold mines. “It’s securing the future, financially,” de Souza says. 

To get more data that could inform regulations on arapaima fishing, she also tracks the species’ migration and breeding patterns—sometimes by aerial radio-frequency in a tiny plane—which were previously a mystery. “To protect the species, we need to know where they’re going,” de Souza says. She conducts research alongside students from the University of Guyana, training a new generation who will help fight to protect the area’s resources. This combination of actions has helped restore the arapaima population to more than 4,000. 

These days, de Souza is frequently focused on helping Rewa Village residents expand their tribal lands—and more than that, get it designated as a conservation area, which offers more protections. At the same time, a major company wants to log that same land, and does not need to ask permission from Rewa Village because those protections don’t yet exist. In hopes of changing that, de Souza travels with Rewa residents to meet with officials in Georgetown, Guyana’s capital city. It’s a tough battle, perhaps more so because she often meets resistance as a female leader—and at times the only female—on expeditions. “My approach is that I’m capable. When I feel [the judgment] in the air, I prove myself,” she says. “Then there’s that shift—the ‘Oh, she can handle herself’ shift.”

“I’ve had guys that can’t really handle it,” she adds. “I’ve had to ask, ‘What, are you scared to get in the water because of piranhas?’” 

Lesley de Souza's Most Memorable Close Encounters in the Animal Kingdom:

Electric eel. “I was hit by an electric eel while I was fishing. It totally shocked me. My arm felt numb for a couple of days. I had a steel leader on the end of my fishing line so the piranhas wouldn’t bite my line off. I was fishing at night. I got the eel, and it started to send electric signals. I thought, wow, you know, I’ve always wanted to see one in the wild, but… 

“Apparently they have a ‘kill’ organ for when they’re going after prey for food, and a ‘stun’ organ for when they feel threatened. I ate the eel—and it was not good. I figured it was in dire straits, so let’s go ahead and roast it up with the other fish. I’m a hunter, but I won’t hunt anything I won’t eat.”

Jaguar. “Hearing one in the forest and knowing that it was the cadence of a big cat, and climbing a tree because I was scared he was coming after me. You have to be in a skinny tree [which deters the cat from climbing]. I did not pick a good tree.”

Harpy eagle. “It’s an incredible species to lay eyes on. It’s kind of the king of the upper canopy. It can kill monkeys.”

Anacondas. “Nineteen feet long!”

  • Taylor Rees in Myanmar, while filming 'Down to Nothing'. The team had to ditch more than half their supplies as they made an unsupported trek to the base of Hkakabo Razi.  Photo: Courtesy of Taylor Rees

  • Rees and her dog, Baloo.  Photo: Courtesy of Taylor Rees

  • Taylor Rees, Emily Harrington, and Hilaree O'Neill in Myanmar.  Photo: Courtesy of Taylor Rees

  • Taken in Alaska while working on anthropology research.  Photo: Courtesy of Taylor Rees

  • Taken while filming 'Down to Nothing'.   Photo: Courtesy of Taylor Rees

  • Taken while doing field ecology in Greenland.  Photo: Courtesy of Taylor Rees

Taylor Rees Has Learned the Art of Suffering for a Story

This one-woman film crew has hopped the globe (and endured blood-sucking critters) to bring unheard voices to the fore

In the fall of 2014, Taylor Rees was part of a team of adventurers that spent two weeks slogging through the remote jungles of Myanmar, picking off relentless leeches and eventually abandoning more than half of their supplies to save weight—all before starting their climb up Hkakabo Razi to confirm that it was the highest peak in southeast Asia. Rees endured all this and captured footage for Down to Nothing, a documentary on the expedition. The 29-year-old co-directed the film with professional climber and filmmaker Renan Ozturk, who’s also her fiancé. 

“We were so unbelievably exhausted at times—after 18-mile hikes you just want to sleep,” Rees says. “But if you don't suck it up, put out the solar panels, charge batteries and dump cards, all while running around trying to capture the porter camps and the various debacles, then that’s it. No film.” 

The expedition itself was painful until the very end. The team didn’t make the top of the approximately 19,000-foot peak, then trudged for two more weeks, worn down to the bone, back through the jungle to civilization. The resulting film earned the 2015 cinematography award at this year’s Telluride MountainFilm Fest. And it was a valuable learning experience in Rees’s quickly accelerating career: “This was just the next level of pain tolerance in the name of capturing moments,” she says. 

Taylor Freesolo Rees (her actual middle name—a legacy of climber parents) is best described with a multi-hyphenate title: filmmaker-photographer-environmentalist-anthropologist-climber. Born in Idaho and raised mostly in New Jersey and Massachusetts, Rees developed an early interest in environmentalism that started down a path globe hopping. While doing field ecology research in Greenland during her undergrad years at Penn State University, Rees wondered why so few of the visiting scientists to the area spoke to the native Inuit residents, who were well aware of how climate change was affecting their home. “I could no longer investigate changes in the environment while neglecting the human element,” she says. From her experiences in Greenland, Rees created a film that launched a whole new passion. Shortly after graduating with a degree in biology, she left the sciences altogether, opting to teach school and create short films about sovereignty and land stewardship on a Pueblo/Navajo reservation in New Mexico. Her newfound fascination with the human-nature relationship would become a unifying thread seen in much of her future work. 

Rees went on to receive a master’s degree in forestry from Yale, lived in Yosemite’s famous Camp 4 for a year and became obsessed with climbing, and did some nomadic activism with environmental organizations like TreeFight. But in recent years, she’s tirelessly pursued all manner of adventures in the role that best suits her: storyteller. 

She currently spends a third of her time on an anthropology project based in Alaska, studying how communities experience natural resource conflicts. “I also weave photojournalism and film, so it's a chance to do everything I love at once,” she says. Another third goes toward producing and creative directing projects with Ozturk. The rest of her time is devoted to what Rees calls her true passion: “A top secret documentary project with a team of filmmakers who I have long admired and respected for their willingness to take risks and get weird with adventure and environmental storytelling. Stay tuned!” (Also stay tuned for an expanded version of Down to Nothing that Rees and Ozturk are working on. “There's a lot of story that couldn't make the 30-minute cut,” she says.)

So yes, you’re going to be seeing a lot more from Taylor Freesolo Rees very soon, but you won’t see much of her. Rees is most interested in staying behind the camera (case in point: her Instagram feed, which is pretty much the only way to keep up with her whereabouts.). The recognition she’s getting is just the side effect of lots of hard work and an outlook that keeps her always looking for the next story. “Be curious. Be curious. And be curious,” is her mantra. “The worst thing ever is assuming you know what is what.” 

Filed To: Film, Climbing, Nature
Ashima Shiraishi Is One of the Smartest Climbers in the Game

Ashima Shiraishi completed two 5.14c's at Red River Gorge when she was 11—making her the youngest ever to complete that grade. Photo: Forest Woodward

Ashima Shiraishi Is One of the Smartest Climbers in the Game

You already know her as one of the best climbers in the world—and only 14—but this fierce competitor will also school you on mental strategy

Life is pretty good when you’ve been crowned world champion in the sport you love, just a few days before starting your freshman year of high school. Ashima Shiraishi, the 14-year-old climbing phenom, took double gold in lead climbing and bouldering at the 2015 International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC) World Youth Championships in Arco, Italy on September 4 and 5. She was the only climber to send all 12 problems in three heats of bouldering and complete every lead route on the docket as well—a perfect score. Shiraishi knows it’s an accomplishment in a field of competitors that ranged up to 20 years old, but—as she often does when talking about her most astounding feats—what she really wants to talk about is how she thought her way through the challenge.

“Italy was crazy,” Shiraishi says, her soft lilt belying a gritty determination that’s won her respect from the world’s greatest climbers. “It was nonstop climbing. Mentally, it was really hard to not collapse. I was competing every day. But I got used to it, and by the end I wanted to compete more.”

What Shiraishi considers “getting used to it” is the product of her intense personal blend of work ethic, self-awareness, and toughness. This beyond-her-years mental game has propelled her to the kind of climbing renown that goes way beyond “impressive for her age.” In the past few years, Shiraishi has racked up some astonishing superlatives achieved by only a handful of climbers in the entire world. (At 13, she became the second female ever to send a V14, and this year, she became the first woman to send a 5.15a climb—more on those later.) "Ashima is one of the most talented rock climbers I’ve ever seen," says climbing legend Lynn Hill, well known for her tenacity on the biggest walls in the world.

ashima-shiraishi-portrait-bw.jpg
  Photo: Forest Woodward

But when we spoke, just a few days after her podium climbs, Shiraishi was back at home in Manhattan counting down the hours till her freshman year of high school. “I’m excited to be seeing my friends,” she says, “but the homework…” she sighs. “I just want to be on summer vacation again.” 

Understandable. Shiraishi has spent most of her free time in the past seven years feeding a climbing obsession. Her parents, who moved to Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood from Japan in the late 1970s, used to take their daughter to Central Park to play. Once she discovered the climbing boulders there, they couldn’t keep her off. These days Shiraishi remains a 5-foot-1 powerhouse by training at two local gyms at least 25 hours a week. Her dad, a former dancer, is her belay partner and bouldering spotter. “Sometimes it’s super hard, because I have school, then climbing, then homework, then dinner. I go to sleep at midnight or 1 a.m., and I wake up around 6 a.m.,” she says. “And I can’t travel as much as other climbers do because I have school.”

That’s what school vacations are for. Over last year’s spring break, the then-13-year-old made history in Spain, spending four days projecting Santa Linya’s notorious Open Your Mind Direct route. Climbing junkies will tell you there was some discrepancy on just how historic her feat was—usually, the wall is a 5.14d, but a hold had just broken off, possibly upgrading it to a 5.15a. Shiraishi was the first person to send it with the missing hold, and likely the first female and youngest overall to send a 5.15a (Rock and Ice points out that Adam Ondra sent his first 5.15a when he was 15). 

A few days later she went ahead and sent a confirmed 5.15a, Ciudad de Dios, quashing any doubts. The skeptics don’t seem to bother Shiraishi so much as getting out of her own head—she returned several times in our conversation to the idea of mastering her inner dialogue. “Before climbing something that’s hard or right at my limit, I’m scared of failing,” she says. “But I try to have confidence and tell myself that all the hours I put in at the gym are going to pay off.”

The champ has more than proven her versatile athleticism with a list of bouldering accolades that’s just as long as her sport climbing attempts. Last summer she became the second female climber to conquer a V14 problem (Golden Shadow in South Africa), and she earned herself a new world record earlier this year when she became the youngest climber and first female to send The Swarm, another V14 in Bishop, California. Maybe Shiraishi will follow peers like Sasha DiGiulian or Alex Honnold into the world of alpine climbing—Hill is sure she could if she wanted to. 

At the moment, though, Shiraishi is still too young to enter most competitions. "Normally you have to be at least 16 to compete in national and international open competitions," she says, "which is unfortunate because I want to see how well I can perform on the World Cup circuit!" In the meantime, she’ll have to settle for freshman year, spring breaks on the toughest faces on the planet, and a few world records before she goes pro—her future goal. “I want to push my limits and push the limits of climbing,” she says. “I love the satisfaction you feel after you get to the top of your project and realize all your hard work has paid off. It’s the most satisfying thing you can ever feel.”  

Ashima Shiraishi on…

Her dream climb: There are way too many…I’d like to go back to Spain and try other climbs there. Also, Australia. I’ve seen so many pictures of the rocks there. I want to explore. 

Keeping your head in the game: The biggest thing I need is motivation to work hard and be disciplined. Even if you have talent, you’re never going to go far if you don’t have the motivation.

Overcoming doubt: On every project I try, I always think it’s impossible at first and almost give up. But there’s just something inside of me…I get inspiration from my friends and my parents, and it just gets me there.

Advice for young climbers just starting out: Hmmm. I’m still learning, so I don’t know how to give advice. What I tell myself—and this is really cliché—is not to give up. That’s what life is, and that’s what you need to keep climbing.

Life outside climbing: I like writing and art, and hanging out with my friends. I’m also a huge foodie. I like Japanese food and dessert.

Ayla Bystrom-Williams Makes Beer That’s (Kind of) Good For You

Ayla Bystrom-Williams (right), with scientist David Fox (center) and HoneyMoon Brewery co-founder Rena Glasscock (left), at the New Mexican Consortium labs. Photo: Minesh Bacrania

Ayla Bystrom-Williams Makes Beer That’s (Kind of) Good For You

This mad scientist-yogini from the Southwest is poised to launch a whole new kind of brew

Ayla Bystrom-Williams wants you to drink more beer. (We know, we like her, too!) But it’s not your garden-variety microbrew or local IPA. Instead, the founder of Santa Fe–based HoneyMoon Brewery suggests you start guzzling kombucha beer. 

Kombucha beer is exactly what it sounds like: a hybrid of a rejuvenating health drink and a happy-hour craft brew. HoneyMoon’s flagship Wildfire ’Bucha Beer tastes like champagne with more fruit and floral notes, and a light, crisp finish. “It’s not so much healthy beer as healthier beer,” Bystrom-Williams says. “Alcohol, per se, is never going to be healthy. But the industry standard for a healthy beer is a Miller Lite.” 

For those who’ve managed to avoid the beverage aisle of Whole Foods, kombucha is a black or green tea fermented with a special culture of yeast and bacteria (the good kind). The result is a drink teeming with probiotics, vitamins, organic acids, and other such microorganisms. As skeptics have noted, kombucha likely doesn’t contain any ingredient in high enough concentration to actually boost your health as much as its proponents claim. But it does give a small caffeine lift and tastes unique: tangy, tart, and slightly sweet. 

A native of the Pacific Northwest who later moved to Santa Fe and joined its yoga community, Bystrom-Williams is herself the product of craft beer and kombucha cultures. She has been home brewing beer for almost a decade, and the moment she tried kombucha, she was hooked. “I was constantly brewing all these weird, smelly, vinegar-y drinks in my cupboard,” she says. Marrying her two loves, then, was a no-brainer. She assembled a small team and began formulating a recipe in 2013, using an open-air aerobic fermenting methodology that’s similar to the way a flavorful Lambic-style beer is made. “Since there’s no research or documentation on this process, we’ve been kind of like mad scientists,” she says. “We’ve got an amazing recipe now. We’ve tried some of the other kombucha beer out there, but ours comes from a more scientific, innovative approach.”

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  Photo: Minesh Bacrania

To help HoneyMoon wade through the nitty-gritty of metabolic processes and understand kombucha’s actual health benefits, Bystrom-Williams contracted a legitimate scientist, David Fox, a bioorganic chemist at the nearby Los Alamos National Laboratory. A home brewer himself, Fox has helped perfect the recipe with a detailed technical analysis of the process and ingredients. “He’s digging into it on a microscopic level, telling us what’s in there, what it’s doing,” Bystrom-Williams says. “We’ve got access to his equipment and professional services, so we have a greater degree of control and experimentation.”

All that science has produced a very drinkable beverage. “It’s a kombucha without the funk,” Bystrom-Williams says. “And a beer without the intense bitterness. The carbonation gives it the champagne-y feel; the kombucha makes it effervescent.” The flavor profile would work well with spring salads or white fish with lemon, but really, she says, the idea is for the hybrid beverage to be your regular order at your local watering hole. “We want it to be on tap at every possible bar we can get to,” she says, “because we want people to interact with this like a normal beer.”

First, though, she needs to obtain production and distribution licenses—a process that’s more complicated for kombucha beer makers, since they’ll also need to get the FDA’s blessing—and select a facility that can eventually serve as tasting and tap room. This all takes startup funding, so look for a Kickstarter campaign to launch in late 2015. The HoneyMoon team is already spearheading local crowdfunding efforts in New Mexico, and hopes to launch commercially in 2016. So far, reception to the concept of a boozy probiotic drink has been overwhelmingly positive (Bystrom-Williams claims the local Whole Foods is already on board). “It’s a process of scalability and growth, which is one of the largest challenges for any company,” she says. “In the meantime, we can host parties and give the brew out. We call it our ‘gypsy brewing plan.’ We’ll be nomadic for the next five or six months.”

Asked whether founding such a unique company was even more of an uphill battle because brewing is a field full of guys, Bystrom-Williams pauses. “I don’t know how to say it in a professional way,” she says, “but I think it’s sort of stupid that craft beer is male-dominated. When I drank it, I felt like it was made for me.” 

At last count, women are consuming almost 32 percent of craft beer volume. Bystrom-Williams wants to keep those numbers growing—by just making a great drink. “We really want to make this beverage super unusual to women and men. We want women who may be afraid to drink beer because of the calories and feeling bloated to love it; and we want men to be stoked and jump in.” 

We’ll drink to that.

Filed To: Science, Women Who Rock
  • Kt Miller has shot for the likes of Skiing magazine—and she's completed some first descents herself.  Photo: Courtesy of Lowepro

  • The Shifting Ice team, Pip Hunt, Meghan Kelly, Martha Hunt, McKenna Peterson, & Nat Segal climbing up the first ski line in South Greenland.  Photo: Kt Miller

  • Photo: Courtesy of Lowepro

  • Polar bears in Churchill, Manitoba.   Photo: Kt Miller

  • Skiing Pebble Creek in Yellowstone National Park.  Photo: Kt Miller

Why Kt Miller Gave Up Heli-Skiing for Polar Bears

The badass photographer, skier, and environmentalist rails against wastefulness in the adventure industry—and her own hypocrisy

Most of the year, Kt Miller lives in “podunk [also known as Cooke City],” Montana. Population: 76. The nearest grocery store is an hour and a half away. In the winter, the only way to reach her one-room, 12-by-14-foot cabin is to drive down a one-way, dead-end road through Yellowstone National Park. And that's exactly how she wants it. “I try to minimize travel as much as possible,” she says. Not traveling too much is simultaneously one of her biggest and most meaningful challenges. Miller has totally escaped the desk-bound life in favor of high-adrenaline pursuits, but she's also her own harshest critic when it comes to championing her other passion: sustainability.

As a photographer, accomplished backcountry skier, and environmentalist, the 25-year-old has found herself in far-flung, high-altitude locales plenty often. “I prioritize my passion projects,” she says of her enviable resume. That includes banking a lot of vertical, from Alaska’s Chilkat Range to the Aiguille du Midi in the French Alps and a descent from 20,000 feet on Denali. She was also the first female to ski the Albisoara Crucii in Romania’s Bucegi Mountains and the North Couloir of Baronette Peak in Montana’s Absaroka Mountains. And she’s parlayed her interests into funding from pro-adventure companies, shooting for the likes of Skiing magazine and Patagonia as an ambassador for Dynafit and Lowepro. 

Miller’s talent for capturing wild winter adventures also helps her tell a sobering story about climate change. That intersection revealed itself most plainly in early August, when Miller criticized the helicopter-skiing industry in an Adventure Journal opinion piece. She’d spent two seasons in her early 20s trying to break in as a heli guide, but objected to what she saw as “frivolous” fuel-chugging (one of the helicopters at her resort consumed about 45 gallons an hour). “Is heli-skiing okay if you only do it a few times a year, but the rest of the year you act as an environmentally aware citizen?” she wrote. “I don’t think so.”

Miller is the first to say that she’s not perfect, but she now makes intentional choices for sustainability in her career moves. For one thing, she’s now a media specialist for Polar Bears International—Miller credits a volunteering stint with the organization, between her first and second heli-skiing seasons, as her environmentalist “lightbulb moment.” Every fall, she helps scientists execute a live cam in the Canadian tundra that shows polar bears migrating for seal-hunting season. It’s useful real-time information about how the bears interact with changing sea ice conditions—and yes, it’s often adorable. The programming reached about 1.5 million viewers in 2013 alone. Miller’s also big on “human-powered adventure.” Why drive when you can bike? Why snowmobile when you can hike? She hopes the images that result from those expeditions reflect a wildness that strikes a chord—and fuels dialogue. 

Up next on her radar is the mother of all climate change meeting grounds: the United Nations Climate Change Summit, which takes place December in Paris. Miller's not attending in person (“There's the whole flying-across-the-world-to-solve-climate-change dilema…”), but she joins a growing rank of winter athletes calling for action at the summit to save the landscapes they love. “I’m hopeful the talks are going to be productive,” she says. “If I ever want to have kids, I better be, right?”

Kt Miller on…

The reaction to her criticism of heli-skiing: I got a lot of responses. Which, from my perspective, was a good thing. That was the intent. A lot of people pointed out my flaws. It’s totally true. I mean, I get on airplanes and go on trips. We are all hypocrites. The reality is, a lot of people lose hope and think the only solution to climate change is that we go back to being cavemen and hunter-gatherers. But we have to think smarter.

Making a name for herself in the male-dominated adventure photography industry: I don’t have the answer people want to hear in some ways. I’m just going to do what I want to do—I don’t really care who else is doing it. You have to prove that you’re not a liability—that you can keep up. I’m shorter and 100 pounds lighter than most of the people I go out with, but I hold myself to really high standards. I train really hard. I think that’s won me a lot of respect with the people I work with. 

The most important steps a person can take for the environment: Someone should invent a way to suck carbon out of the atmosphere and turn it into a non-harmful substance. But if you can’t do that:

  1. Don’t underestimate the power of small individual actions, like bringing reusable bags to the grocery store and turning off your lights.
  2. Voting with your dollars is huge. Everything you buy is a vote: what kind of milk you buy, where you get your groceries, what clothing you wear and what it’s made of. 
  3. Let the government and public leaders know it’s important to us. One way to do so: Tweet #actonclimate.
Izzi Gomez Is the Future of SUP

Izzi Gomez helped Team USA win the 2015 World SUP and Paddleboard Championship in Sayulita, Mexico. Photo: Greg Panas

Izzi Gomez Is the Future of SUP

The 15-year-old paddling champ is focused, driven, and ready to revolutionize a sport on the brink of the mainstream

Izzi Gomez has seawater in her veins. Hailing from the beach town of Jupiter, Florida, the 15-year-old reigning stand-up paddlesurfing women’s world champion was catching waves practically before she could walk. No surprise: Her mom was a surfer and her grandparents own one of the oldest surf shops in South Florida. “I was kind of born into it,” Gomez says. She surfs a normal short board like a boss but says SUP lets her better see the swells coming in and navigate the current. “SUP came onto the scene when I was five or six. We were some of the first people in Florida to have a board. People would be like, ‘What is that thing?”

Her first board was big and bulky by today’s SUP standards, but it didn’t take Gomez long to figure out how to rip on “that thing” with a paddle in hand—especially after watching her 18-year-old bro (something of a SUP star himself), whom she credits as her biggest supporter and mentor. “He was killing it,” she says. “I thought, if he can do it, I can do it.” Gomez entered her first World Tour event in Huntington Beach, California at the age of 13, just for “something to keep [her] occupied.” She won the whole thing.

Since then, Gomez has crisscrossed the oceans as a young force shaping an emerging sport that’s only even had a world tour for six years. In the process, she’s making a case for SUP as a high-adrenaline competition, and for the young female athletes who are really pushing the envelope. “People haven’t fully accepted SUP yet, so it’s even harder to accept girls,” she says. “But more girls are doing it than guys. Girls are just progressing so fast; they’re crushing it.” 

Gomez herself was the youngest person to be named female Paddler of the Year at the 2014 SUP Awards, and the only female SUP surfer named to the 2014 International Surfing Association’s Team USA. (She handily nabbed the team one of two gold medals that helped USA win this year’s World SUP and Paddleboard Championship in Sayulita, Mexico.) “She’s a great spirit and a powerful athlete,” says ISA president Fernando Aguerre, who pegs her as a role model for the next generation of paddlers. “She’s a ball of energy that loves the ocean. And that combination of athletic ability and spiritual connection comes across in everything she does. I get to meet thousands of athletes. A few stick out. She’s one of those.”

 

#SMILE @gopro #gopro #hero4session

A photo posted by Izzi Gomez (@izzi.gomez) on

Gomez credits well-rounded interests for much of her success—her traditional surfing background, to be sure, but also the things outside of competition that keep her grounded. She plays the guitar, sings (she auditioned for The Voice and made it into the top 100), and loves boxing. But Gomez is committed to a serious athlete’s schedule, having been homeschooled since sixth grade. It’s the only way to be as good as she is—and travel as much as she does. Last year’s circuit brought her to France, Brazil, Abu Dhabi, Hawaii, and Huntington Beach. This year she’s added Morocco to the itinerary for the last stop of the Stand Up World Tour. “Nobody puts pressure on me,” she says. “My sponsors don’t, my family doesn’t. It’s all myself, because I know what I’m capable of. I used to always be stressed out, but I’m focusing on living in the moment more.”

It’s a good moment for both the teenage SUP phenom and the sport. Gomez currently sits third in the World Tour standings and will defend her title at the U.S. Open at Huntington on September 26. No matter what happens with the next set of waves, she’s stoked to see SUP becoming more mainstream—and especially to see the ladies leading the way. After all, that same fact is what gets Gomez out of bed in the morning: “Knowing I can be doing more to push myself, and that the other girls are probably out there training to win, too,” she says. “I’m super competitive, although I try not to show it. But there’s a whole other me when I’m out on the water.”

6 Things the Queen of SUP Won’t Travel Without:

  1. Bikinis. “Because you never know where you’re going to go. You always have to have one.”
  2. Kind Bars. “I don’t want to starve if there’s no food I like to eat.”
  3. Sunglasses. “I need my favorite Ray-Bans.”
  4. Sunscreen.
  5. Polaroid camera.
  6. GoPro camera [Gomez joined GoPro’s athlete roster earlier this year]. “I have three.” 
Rory Bosio Is Reinventing Running—And She’s Just Getting Started

Bosio runs through the night at the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc in 2013. Photo: Alessandro Belluscio/Courtesy of The North Face

Rory Bosio Is Reinventing Running—And She’s Just Getting Started

Tips for developing a rock-hard core from the two-time Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc winner

Rory Bosio raced her first ultramarathon in 2007. Since then, the Truckee, California, resident has notched four top-five finishes in the Western States 100 and won The North Face’s prestigious Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc twice. That’s a 103-mile circumnavigation of the iconic peak that straddles France, Italy, and Switzerland on a route that climbs more than 30,000 feet.

Needless to say, Bosio is already a star ultrarunner at just 30 years old. We caught up with the endurance powerhouse to find out how she got started, where she’s headed, and her secret strength routine for crushing ultras.

“Living in Tahoe, it’s easy for someone in their 20s to fall into the party scene,” says Bosio, a full-time nurse and North Face–sponsored ultrarunner. “I knew I needed to find a more productive outlet, and I knew my neighbor Laura Vaughn had done the Western States 100, and she made it sound like no big deal.” (Vaughn’s father invented the sports gel and founded GU Energy Labs after listening to her complain about stomach issues from her race.) “I ran cross-country and track in high school, but cross-country ski racing was my thing. Back then, running was always about being a better skier.”

Bosio started training with Vaughn and entered her first ultra, the Silver State 50K, outside of Reno. “I found that I liked ultrarunning more than I thought I would,” Bosio says. “I liked the pace. Slow enough that you could look around at the scenery—and the views were amazing. I could run alongside other people and talk for a while.” The fact that she won didn’t hurt, either.

UTMB 2013 UTMB13 chamonix tnf
Bosio at the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc 2013.   Photo: Alessandro Belluscio

Despite her stunning successes since then at the world’s most prestigious races, Bosio still has a few bucket list events. Her dream race, for instance, is the Hardrock 100, a 100-mile sufferfest with nearly 34,000 feet of climbing at an average altitude of 11,186 feet, held each July in southwestern Colorado. “It’s the epitome of mountain running, and it’s the only race in the United States that I want badly,” Bosio says. “It reminds me of Europe: big, long climbs and descents with not a lot of flat running. I don’t do well in runnable races. The more hiking, the better.”

While waiting to see if she wins a lottery slot this December, Bosio has been forming other ambitious plans for 2015, including the 74-mile Lavaredo Ultra Trail race in the Italian Dolomites in late June, followed by a possible run/bike loop of Colorado’s 14,000-foot peaks in July, where she’d run up and down each peak and then pedal to the next ascent. She's also thinking about a one-day circumnavigation of the Tahoe Rim Trail. She’ll finish her season in October on Reunion Island off Madagascar in the Indian Ocean at the 100-mile Diagonale des Fous, or Grand Raid.

“I need big projects to focus on,” Bosio says, “or else I go crazy.”

Bosio’s Hard-Core Strength Routine

“Core strength is the one thing I’m consistent about maintaining,” says Bosio. “Without it, everything falls apart 20 hours into a race. A strong core helps me maintain an efficient running posture longer. It also helps my balance when running with a hydration pack.”

Five days a week for 15 minutes a day, Bosio works through the following exercises, allowing herself no more than 20 seconds of recovery between each set or move.

Pushups: Three sets of 10 to 13 reps, keeping your elbows as close to your body as possible.

Planks: Start facedown, resting on your forearms and toes; hold for two minutes. Rotate onto the right forearm until your torso is perpendicular to the ground; hold for two minutes. Switch to the opposite side/arm; hold for two minutes. Finish with two minutes facedown in the start position.

Hip lifts and reverse crunches: Rotate three times through 30 reps each of hip lifts and reverse crunches. Hip lift: Lie on your back with legs bent and feet flat on the floor. Press your pelvis upward until only your shoulders and feet are touching the ground. Slowly lower your hips to the floor. Reverse crunch: Lie on your back with legs straight. Lift your knees to your chest, rolling your butt off the floor. Slowly lower your legs back to the floor.

Mikaela Shiffrin Is a 19-Year-Old Speed Machine

At the 2014 Olympic Games, Shiffrin won the first medal for an American in slalom since 1984. Photo: Grafton Smith/USSA

Mikaela Shiffrin Is a 19-Year-Old Speed Machine

The Olympic gold medalist on dominating slalom—and what's next on her agenda

Last February, then 18-year-old Mikaela Shiffrin became the youngest skier in history to nab an Olympic gold medal in slalom—after nearly crashing partway through her winning run. That performance, along with her second straight World Cup slalom title, earned her a spot among U.S. skiing’s biggest stars and a reputation for staying cool in the face of disaster. Now that the Olympic pressure is off, Outside caught up with the young phenom to see what she’s planning next—and to get tips on how to ski like a gold medalist.

“After the [Olympic] race, my coach told me how psyched he was for so many reasons, one of them being that we wouldn’t have that medal hanging over our heads for the next four years,” says Shiffrin. “We got the job done. Now all we have to do is see how much further I can get. Every day, I see there’s always something I can do better, and I’m really anxious to do those things better, because the better I ski, the more of a chance I have at winning.”

The plan is working. Shiffrin has been dominating lately. She won the giant slalom (GS) event at the World Cup’s first stop, in Soelden, Austria, in October and plans to branch out into the super-G at one or two World Cup races this winter. “If I ski fast enough, I might qualify to ski the super-G at World Champs as well,” she says. “And I’m pretty psyched to go to World Champs with a real shot at getting a medal in both GS and slalom.”

Even more of a reason to be psyched: This season’s World Championships will be held in Shiffrin’s hometown of Vail, Colorado. “It’s such an incredible event to begin with, but on top of that, having it in my hometown is going to be ridiculous,” she says. “Not many Americans have this opportunity.” She’s particularly stoked about the course. “It is such a perfect hill for GS. It has every element of a tough technical course, but it isn’t intimidating, so I feel like I can go out of the start, guns blazing, and not even think about slowing down until I get to the finish.”

Shiffrin’s Top 3 Tips for Skiing Like a Champ

Use your shins: “My dad used to have this saying: ‘Knees to skis, hands in front,’” Shiffrin says. “The knees-to-skis portion means that you have to press on the front of your boots with your shins, because that’s how you get control of your skis. The tendency is to stiffen up and lean back when you’re uncomfortable, but if you loosen up a bit and try to feel yourself flexing your boots forward, you’ll have much more control and better balance.”

Hands out in front: “Having your hands forward, out where you can see them, helps to keep the energy in your skis instead of flying out of your arms,” Shiffrin says. “You’d think that using your arms like outriggers would help with balance, but it mostly just distracts from what your legs and skis are doing.”

Dig in the outside ski: “Make sure that you put most of your pressure on your outside ski—the ski that’s on the outside of whatever turn you make,” Shiffrin says. “That’s how you’re going to arc a cleaner, more controlled turn.”

    Meet the World's Biggest Advocate for Female Explorers

    Bergman makes an ideal submarine pilot partly because of her short stature; that means room for more gear and people. Photo: Courtesy of Erika Bergman

    Meet the World's Biggest Advocate for Female Explorers

    Erika Bergman turned her career as a submarine pilot into an international engineering and exploration curriculum. The goal: to get more young women outside and involved in the sciences.

    "They wanted short pilots so they could pack in more gear and people," says five-foot-three Erika Bergman. That's how the 27-year old got her first gig as a submarine pilot. Since then, she's come out of the sub to pilot Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) for San Francisco-based ocean exploration robotics club OpenROV. While Bergman jokes that her petite size launched her career, her mechanical and scientific knowledge are what led her to the waters in the Caribbean, Arctic, and West Coast—and into classrooms across the world as a champion for female engineers.

    Bergman's life reads something like a YA adventure novel. At just 15 years old, she talked her way into a gig as the diesel engineer aboard a tall ship that was traveling from California to Canada. She carried that love of the sea into college, working as a mechanic on a steam ship while she studied oceanography at the University of Washington. When she graduated in 2010, the submarines came calling, and she put her engineering and oceanic skills—and slight stature—to use. But an opportunity from National Geographic helped her develop yet another passion: teaching.

    In 2013, she won a National Geographic Young Explorer's Grant to explore the deep coral reefs off Curaçao and Roatan while streaming live video to classrooms through a Google Hangout connection after resurfacing. "The question for me was: How can I bring students down there with me and get them involved?" she says. "When it works, they ask amazing questions—they notice things I don't. That part of exploration is what I wanted to pursue and still do."

    erika bergman, submarine pilot, national geogrphic young explorers grant, sedna epic expedition, female explorers, marine biology, engineering
      Photo: Courtesy of Erika Bergman

    Bergman recently made a commitment to expand her educational reach by joining the Sedna Epic Expedition, a multi-year adventure involving a team of 10 women who will snorkel the Northwest Passage. The expedition's goal: to bring attention to the decline of sea ice on the Poles. Bergman manages the team's ROV camera and educational outreach, the latter of which started last spring at an engineering camp for girls in Port Angeles, Washington. There, a group of 13- and 14-year-old girls built Bergman's ROV "Phantom" from scratch, learning to solder, weld, and wire together the sub. In the Arctic, Bergman used the ROV to break the ice, socially, with young Inuit girls. 

    "They were so shy at first," Bergman says. "But when I explained that girls the same age as them had built the ROV, they suddenly felt good about seeing what it could do and how they could control it." 

    In 2015, Bergman plans to replicate her girls ROV-building camps with sessions in Atlanta, Georgia, and Monterey and Oakland, California."The goal is for the girls to build the ROV and then spend two days exploring the water in their backyard," she says. "I call them 'GURC's', for Girls Underwater Robot Camps." She points to a recent camp in Berkeley where six girls, ages 12 to 17, built an ROV to explore nearby Lake Anza as a perfect example.

    Bergman is also returning to the Arctic, and has been invited to pilot a sub in Papau New Guinea, Roatan and Curaçao. One place she'd love to explore, beyond SCUBA depth, are the waters off Cuba at the 850-square-mile marine park Gardens of the Queen. "The habitats there are very well protected from overfishing and pollution," she says.

    If Bergman has her way, she'll bring along a crowd of girls via a remote hookup to her GURC-built ROVs. "I'm going to teach them how to build a remote control ROV and find the confidence to go in their backyard and explore," she says. "In 10 years, I want to be surrounded by a bunch of female colleagues." 


    Bergman's Tips for Aspiring Female Explorers 

    1. "Don't be afraid of your own curiosity. It's worth exploring."

    2. "Just ask for the gig. You might get shot down, but you might also succeed."

    How to Harness the Spirit of Shackleton—Today

    Kate Harris in Tibet in 2011, during her Silk Road cycling expedition. Photo: Melissa Yule

    How to Harness the Spirit of Shackleton—Today

    Canadian Kate Harris' sure-fire two-step guide on how to become a modern explorer.

    Kate Harris is an adventurer with a penchant for tiptoeing across national borders.

    In 2011, she and childhood friend, Melissa Yule, won a $10,000 grant to bike the Silk Road, the historic trading route that winds more than 6,200 miles from Turkey to northern India. Harris’ documentation of the 10-month trip, which included a clandestine 600-mile jaunt in Tibet without authority of the Chinese government, cemented the 31-year-old Canadian’s reputation as an adventurer, travel writer, and photographer. It also sparked her fascination with borders and how they split apart not only people, but entire ecosystems.

    This winter, Harris is headed on a new expedition to the region where Tajikistan, Afghanistan, China, and Kyrgyszstan collide. For roughly six weeks in February and March, she’ll join MIT glaciologist Alison Criscitiello, and geologist and mountaineer Rebecca Haspel, to ski traverse the eastern Pamir mountains, tracking the migrations of Marco Polo sheep and studying the impact of border fences on the herds. Harris calls this new adventure Borderski. It’s “a parable, in many ways, for life on our increasingly tamed and walled-in planet,” she says.

    Harris hopes that Borderski’s accompanying documentary film, reports and photography will “galvanize people to question how fences of all kinds shape the world, and as a result, make a bold new case for wilderness conservation across them.” It will be a wild adventure. The Pamir plateau—or Bam-i-Dunya, Persian for "the Roof of the World"—is, as Harris explains, a territory of extremes. Altitudes climb above 13,000 feet, winter temperatures plummet below negative 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and constant winds harden the snow into concrete. 

    “As Ellen Meloy puts in her book Eating Stone,” Harris says, “‘the mind needs wild animals. The body needs the trek that takes it looking for them.’”

    Harris’ 2-Step Guide to Becoming a Modern-Day Explorer

    1. Make Yourself Uncomfortable

    “Forget planting the first flags, leaving the first footprints,” says the Explorers Club member. “It’s still possible to be an explorer in the root sense of the word, which in Latin is ex-plorare, or ‘go out’ and ‘utter a cry.’ Exploration, then, means venturing beyond all your usual borders and giving expression to that experience, hopefully in a way that expands human consciousness, that makes the world anew.”

    2. Return Home

    How do you know you’ve had a successful exploration? That’s easy, according to Harris, who lives in the remote northwestern town of Atlin, British Columbia. The answer lies in T.S. Eliot’s poem, Little Gidding:

    "The end of all our exploring / will be to arrive where we started / and know the place for the first time."

    This Former MTV Journalist's Photos Will Make You See the World Differently

    Scrutinize your own work. Photo: Courtesy of Tabitha Soren

    This Former MTV Journalist's Photos Will Make You See the World Differently

    Professional photographer Tabitha Soren shares her secrets for shooting arresting photos.

    MTV lovers will recognize Tabitha Soren as the face of the channel’s 1992 Choose or Loose campaign, an effort to get young people to vote. So it may come as a surprise that Soren’s post-MTV career blossomed on the other side of the camera. “After so many years of working at 30 frames a second, the standard speed for video, I wanted to focus on one frame at a time,” Soren says. The result: a portfolio bursting with thought-provoking images that invites viewers to see sports, movement, and the outside world differently.

    Soren fell in love with art photography during a 1997 graduate fellowship at Stanford University and turned that passion into a career in photojournalism. For years, the Berkeley resident worked alongside her husband, writer Michael Lewis, on shoots for Slate and The New York Times Magazine. Now, she’s branched out on her own, most recently with a well-received exhibit titled Running.

    “In the Running pictures archetypal figures struggle to escape or arrive,” she says of the three-year project. The photos capture various people running across different landscapes—a waist-down shot of people running from a car wreck, for example—not the traditional spandex-clad runner. “I am attempting to make elemental fears visible. Movement provides an opportunity for loss of control, un-self-consciousness, and the pictures describe our shared instinct to survive.”

    Last spring, the Kopeiken Gallery in Los Angeles exhibited Running, and the project was published in an accompanying book. The project later showed at the Klompching Gallery in Brooklyn as well as the Museum of Contemporary Art in Indianapolis and the Transformer Station art space in Cleveland, Ohio.

    Next up for Soren: a project 11 years in the making. She’s currently wrapping up her work on Fantasy Life, a project that started as a New York Times Magazine assignment in 2002 for which she tracked 23 players from that year’s Major League Baseball draft class through Spring Training in Arizona. She decided to follow the players for the next decade-plus, usually shooting them each spring and a few other times during the year as some went on to become stars in the big leagues while other players never made it out of the minor leagues.

    “It’s morphed into a look at the role of fantasy in American life and the myths that fuel it: failure leads to greatness; the individual is paramount; each one of us has a manifest destiny to distinguish ourselves.” she says. “It’s the exact opposite of a community-based societies like Japan, where the community comes first, ahead of the self.”

    While she may not identify as a journalist anymore—“The pleasure I get from photography has little to do with being or having been a journalist,” she says—her images and subject matter prove that she still knows what makes for an arresting story. “Tension is the common factor in my photographs,” she says. “There’s usually some psychological conflict present.”

    Shoot Like Soren

    Develop Your Own Style: “Self-scrutiny is crucial to making art that is durable and truthful. Doubt and perseverance can co-exist.”

    Get the Perfect Shot: “To make a photograph, look for imperfection. Everything that moves me can be found in the space where things go wrong, or fall short.”

    Filed To: Women's, Tools, Cameras
    Pro Skier Julia Mancuso Has a Surfer’s Soul

    Julia Mancuso off Tavarua, Fiji, October 2014. Photo: Peter Poby

    Pro Skier Julia Mancuso Has a Surfer’s Soul

    The Olympic gold medalist makes a name for herself as a big-wave surfer.

    Weeks before the start of the World Cup ski racing season, Julia Mancuso decided to go surfing. That’s not so unusual—Mancuso has long surfed from her off-season base in Maui. This time, however, she chose to try the thunderous wave Cloudbreak in Fiji, using a tow-in assist from a jet ski to notch four rides on the double-head-high swell. The photos of her session show her charging down the face of a beastly wave with all the poise of the veteran ski racer she is. We caught up with the four-time Olympic medalist to ask how surfing big waves helps her ski—and if she sees any future in the water.

    OUTSIDE: How does surfing a big wave compare to downhill ski racing in terms of skill level, confidence, fear, and the adrenaline rush when you nail it?
    MANCUSO
    : Surfing and ski racing are very similar in the sense that you have to be totally focused when you decide to ‘go,’ but I don’t think that you can compare the skill level. With any sport you take on, you have to start with the right equipment. I was really lucky to have a great board and an amazing jet ski driver to put me in the waves at the perfect place. It’s like having a great technician and good downhill skis: You have to trust what you have on your feet so you can focus on moving forward. Whether it’s the next turn on the slopes or down the line on the wave, you get the same feeling.

    Making the wave is like going through a difficult section or nailing a jump in a ski race, it’s a combination of adrenaline and pure joy.

    Does surfing make you a better skier or is it the other way round?
    I think every sport can benefit skiing in one way or another. Surfing is great because it trains all your proprioceptive muscles and nervous system in an uncontrolled way, just like skiing, helping your nervous system get stronger and more responsive. Surfing has taught me to trust my natural instincts and skiing has helped me have the confidence to ride those big waves. The waves are like a never-ending mountain where you have to ride down the wave face as well as across it, which brings another element into the whole riding part.  

    What should we be on the lookout for in 2015? Are there any big waves that you might like to try?
    Unfortunately, my skiing goals get in the way of my surfing goals as the best big waves at my home in Maui are in the winter. I would love to improve my paddling so I can go with my friend Paige Alms, who is a professional surfer, to surf Jaws [off of Maui].

    Mancuso’s Top Water Training Tip: Hold Your Breath

    "Skiing is very anaerobic," Mancuso says, "and you need a good aerobic base to recover faster. When I started to do breath holds and rock running [running underwater while holding a rock to weigh her down] I noticed that my biking was getting better and I was breathing easier, so I really believe that breath holds help increase your VO2 max.

    "A great way to start practicing your breath holds is to simply look at a clock. Start with one minute and go up from there. Holding your breath is much easier in the water, but obviously it isn’t as easy to find a pool or ocean all the time.

    "Anytime I get in a pool, I like to do underwater laps and I try to go until I get that awful diaphragm contraction, which reminds me: If you’re going to practice breath holds—especially underwater—be safe and always have a friend with you nearby and take turns holding your breath."  

    Coryn Rivera’s One-Step Guide to Becoming a Cycling Champ

    “Go with your instincts,” says Coryn Rivera. “Whether it be racing or training, you have to feel the moment’s right when you start your sprint to the finish line and go." Photo: Danny Munson

    Coryn Rivera’s One-Step Guide to Becoming a Cycling Champ

    In beating the boys, cycling pro Rivera embraces her competitive instinct.

    Sixty-eight and counting. That’s the number of national cycling titles Coryn Rivera has won so far—and she’s only 22. The Indianapolis-based pro won her first championship a decade ago, in a field that included boys. Since then, she’s been an equal-opportunity powerhouse, crushing men and women on the road, track, and in cyclocross. Rising to the top while women’s cycling gains international recognition and sponsorship, Rivera is poised to become a household name.

    Rivera caught the cycling bug from her father, an avid cyclist, who put her on his tandem and took her along for group rides out of their hometown of Tustin, California. Once she was big enough to ride, she got her own bike. “We loved riding, but we didn’t know anything about racing,” she says. “In 2004, there was a kids race at the Redlands Classic, one lap of the criterium course. I entered it and won. The next year, I won it again, and I told my dad that I couldn’t wait another year to race again, and that’s how I got into racing as a junior.”

    In her first junior race, Rivera finished second to one boy, her first loss. “I started crying,” she says. “I hated losing, and the next race I entered I made sure to beat all the boys.” Her competitive instinct—and her results—allowed her to turn pro at 16 and earned her a cycling scholarship to Marian University in Indianapolis, across the street from the Major Taylor Velodrome. (USA Cycling, not the NCAA, oversees collegiate cycling, so there are no regulations against pros competing for college teams.)

    UHC UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling UHC Pro Cycling UHC UnitedHealthcare North Star Grand Prix North Star Coryn Rivera
      Photo: Courtesy of UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling

    After wrapping up the collegiate cycling season in 2014, she earned a spot on the new UnitedHealthcare squad, a team stacked with talented riders including 2010 and 2013 Giro d’Italia Femminile champ, Mara Abbott, and 2012 Olympic silver medalist, Lauren Tamayo.

    Rivera quickly proved she deserved her spot on the team, winning the Professional Criterium National Championship, placing sixth in the inaugural women’s Tour de France spectacle, La Course, and collecting 10 wins along the way. “My favorite win of the year, though, was when we swept the podium at the last race of the Gateway Cup in St. Louis in August,” she says. “It was a perfect sprint, absolutely everything went our way. I didn’t even notice where I finished (second), and I didn’t care.”

    Rivera does care about winning in 2015, though. She’s locked her sights on qualifying for the national team again at the Pro Road Nationals in Greenville, South Carolina, then making it to the World Cycling Championships, to be held in Richmond, Virginia, next September. “I raced the course in May for collegiate nationals and won there,” she says. “I feel like I have an advantage. And come on, when are Worlds going to be held in our country again? It’s a big deal.”

    Between now and Worlds, Rivera will finish her last semester at Marian and pile on training time at the school’s indoor-training facility (“We call it the ‘wattage cottage’”) before rejoining her UnitedHealthcare teammates for a slew of UCI and Continental races. She’ll race at the Tour of California in May, participate in the UCI-ranked Philly Cycling Classic in early summer, head to Europe to race in La Course, and the Vuelta in Spain, among other top UCI-level races.

    “There’s been a slow progression in women’s cycling, and it’s getting better. But I still have to rely on winning prize money to make a living,” she says, as opposed to living on a team salary. “Fortunately, I win a lot." 

      Photo: Sean Robinson

    Rivera’s One-Step Guide to Becoming a Champion

    In this age of the quantified cyclist who tracks watts, heartrate, rpms, speed, calories and more, Rivera has a decidedly old-school method to understanding what’s best for her performance:

    “Go with your instincts,” she says. “Whether it be racing or training, you have to feel the moment’s right when you start your sprint to the finish line and go. Don’t think about it, or wait, just go if you gut says ‘go.’ Trusting your instinct works the other way as well: if you’re starting to feel sick or don’t have it in you to go hard one day, back down on the intensity or the number of intervals. If you’re feeling good, go ahead and push yourself a little harder than your workout says you should. Always trust your instincts on what to do.”

    Filed To: Road Biking, Women's
    How U.S. Soccer Star Tobin Heath Became Team Leader

    Tobin Heath during USA's 4-2 win over France during the 2012 London Olympics. Photo: Mike Stahlschmidt/isiphotos.com

    How U.S. Soccer Star Tobin Heath Became Team Leader

    The two-time Olympian will lead the women’s national squad to the 2015 World Cup—and share her secrets to unleashing athletic potential.

    If the U.S. women’s national soccer team were a train, Tobin Heath would be its engine.

    In October, the midfielder scored two goals in the team’s 5-0 victory over Guatemala. The performance helped the team qualify for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, to be held in Canada next summer. Standout performances like that have earned Heath the trust and respect of her teammates. But as the 26-year-old tells us, she’s still getting used to her role as a team leader.

    A soccer phenom since age four, Heath has won at every level, including three NCAA championships with the University of North Carolina. In her junior and senior years at North Carolina, Heath spent summers playing for the U.S. Women’s National Team. At age 20—the youngest woman on the team—she helped the squad win the Olympic gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Summer Games. Four years later, she helped the team win gold again at the 2012 Olympics in London.

    There’s only one thing Heath does not have: a World Cup title. “For me, 2011 was a heartbreak,” Heath told FIFA.com in October. “The whole team’s motivation now is for that not to happen again.” In 2011, Japan won the title after blocking Tobin’s penalty kick in a game-ending shootout, then scoring on the U.S.

    Now Heath will be focusing full-time on the national team as she prepares for the upcoming World Cup and Olympic years. It’s a welcome change after two years of down time spent bouncing between club teams in Paris and Portland and dealing with ankle injuries. “For the next two years, everybody on the national team can put their whole lives into achieving the collective dream of winning,” she says. “When we play for our respective club teams [during the two-year down time between World Cup and Olympic years], the season only lasts six months.”

    Now back to full strength, Heath is in prime shape for her best campaign yet. She’s also starting to realize just how much her teammates look up to her. “I’m aware that I’m now a role model for younger players,” she says. “I bring more maturity to practice—it’s more of a work environment to me, where I consciously work to get better each day.”

    Tobin’s Top Tips for Unleashing Athletic Potential

    Make Mistakes
    “The greatest tip ever told to me is ‘Don’t be afraid to make mistakes,’” Heath says. “I had a coach when I first started playing who likes to tell the story about how the other parents would complain to him that I never passed the ball, that I was always trying to dribble around the other players and score, instead of learning how to play the game right. He wouldn’t do it, because he never wanted me to stop believing that I could dribble past anybody. He knew that eventually I’d figure it out, but not because someone told me to do it, but from learning from my mistakes.”

    Never Be Satisfied
    “Connected to that is the advice I give to young players who are invited to national camps for the first time. ‘Don’t be satisfied with simply being here,’” Heath says. “What I mean is that you have to stand out if you want to make the team and to do that you have to take risks, and accept that you’ll make some mistakes.”

    Sally Bergesen's Crusade to Change the Running Industry

    Oiselle founder Sally Bergensen (center), a competitive marathon runner herself, founded Oiselle in 2007 to give women what they wanted in athletic apparel. Photo: Courtesy of Sally Bergensen

    Sally Bergesen's Crusade to Change the Running Industry

    The Oiselle founder knows her company is much smaller than the behemoths. But that doesn’t mean she's scared to take them on—in politics, or in fashion.

    In 2007, Seattle-based Oiselle was an up-and-coming women’s running apparel brand winning customers for its sophisticated looks and functional cuts. Now, it’s become a political campaign for change in a pro running system that industry insiders and athletes believe is broken—and founder Sally Bergesen is leading the charge.

    Bergesen founded Oiselle in 2007 following a stint as a brand consultant and her own rise as a competitive age-group runner (her marathon PR is a 2:59). “I just thought there was something wrong with running shoe companies making women’s running apparel,” she says. “I wanted more, and I knew that women wanted more from their clothes than what they were being offered.”

    Women seeking clothes that transition easily from workout to everyday living took notice, particularly after Oiselle crashed New York Fashion Week in 2013, and again this year when Bergesen put on a fashion show headlined by Olympian Kara Goucher and 5K-specialist Lauren Fleshman. “The fashion show in New York was my ultimate way of saying that functional clothes that you can run a 5K or the Olympics in can look fantastic,” Bergesen says, “and women should and can expect it.”

    sally bergensen oiselle
    Bergensen and team.   Photo: Rebekah MacKay

    A few weeks later, Bergesen got into a tussle with USA Track and Field (USATF) for altering the photo of the U.S. women’s 4x1500 meter relay team from the IAAF World Relays Championships. In the photo, she swapped out the Nike swoosh on Kate Grace’s racing uniform for Oiselle’s bird-in-flight, since Oiselle sponsors Grace. She also swapped the Nike logos on the other runners for the logos of their respective sponsors, Brooks and New Balance.

    The move was meant to show how USATF limits lucrative sponsorship opportunities for pro runners by forcing them to race in gear from Nike which, together with one other sponsor, Bergesen writes on her blog, funds over half of the USATF budget. Because USATF does not allow runners to promote non-Nike sponsors like Oiselle, Brooks, and New Balance at races, companies have a difficult time seeing a return on investment in runner sponsorship. The result: elites must scrounge for money elsewhere while fitting in their training. And they must settle for suboptimal contracts.

    “Traditional contracts with athletes suck. They’re 20-plus pages long. They can involve retroactive pay cuts if performance or appearance goals aren’t met. Some sponsors even consider a female athlete having a baby as an injury, as something negative,” Bergesen says. “These contracts often reward the wrong things: racing through injuries, a hyper-focus on results, and forbidding athletes to race at marathons sponsored by a competitor, which it makes it more difficult for the sport to generate interest in rivalries or bring together an elite field to chase American or world records. I’m fighting the one-dimensional view of athletes that says ‘win or else.’”

    In contrast, Oiselle’s contract is one page long. “We’re more interested in letting our athletes express themselves as women, moms—human beings. Results are only part of their value to us as a brand,” Bergesen says.

    Thanks to her fearlessness and inclusiveness, Bergesen was able to convince Kara Goucher to leave Nike after 12 years and run for Oiselle as she trains for the marathon at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

    With top runners like Goucher, Fleshman, Grace now on Oiselle’s roster—and those headline-grabbing fashion shows—Oiselle is taking off. Bergesen points to Oiselle’s Flock program as evidence the company is tapping into a customer base that the larger companies can only dream about. For $100, members of the Flock get a special racing shirt, bag, free shipping on all orders and put $25 toward Oiselle’s Emerging Athlete Fund to help pay race fees and travel expenses for their elite running team. “The first 200 slots in the Flock sold out in an hour. The next 250 slots were gone in 15 minutes,” Bergesen says. “That’s great, but even better is seeing Flock members from the same city connect with each other and become running buddies.”

    Now with 16 employees, Oiselle will hit nearly $10 million in revenue this year. But Bergesen says that’s just the beginning. In 2015, she expects Oiselle to grow thanks to the continued success of its outerwear line, the expansion of a swimwear line introduced in 2014 (“The suits are designed for athletic women going on vacation,” she explains), and the expansion of the Flock.

    Sure, $10 million pales in comparison to Nike’s projected revenues of $28 billion to $30 billion. But that doesn’t mean Bergesen’s scared to take them on—in politics, or in fashion. When asked whether Oiselle will ever launch a shoe or deviate from its running roots, Bergesen says “I see us transitioning into an athletic apparel company with something for every woman who trains and competes, and with shoes, it’s not a matter of if we’ll do them, but when.”

    Bergesen’s Tip for Fitting Training into a Busy Life

    “A successful training plan for a half-marathon or marathon is going to require long runs or hard workouts of 1.5 hours or more,” Bergesen says. “What's worked for me is to block out a set amount of time for a totally sanctioned, everyone-knows-about-it long workout on a specific weekday morning. Knowing that I have already set that time aside for a hard or long effort motivates me the rest of the week to squeeze in quick runs at lunch, before work, and early on Sunday mornings. For some reason, fitting in the rest of my training on those days becomes much easier. Over time, exercise transcends being another thing on your to-do list. It becomes a lifestyle.”

    Leah Benson Is Changing How Women Buy Bikes

    Thanks to Leah Benson's component-first approach, her female customers can make their perfect bikes instead of settling for stock models. Photo: GlobalStock/iStock

    Leah Benson Is Changing How Women Buy Bikes

    The Portland bike shop owner starts from the saddle up.

    Entrepreneurs call it the spark—the moment of inspiration that inspired their business. For Leah Benson, it was a conversation with three women who were afraid of entering their local bike shop.

    "I had a lot of discussions with women about how they didn't enjoy the process of buying their bikes or taking them back for service," Benson says. The women simply didn't feel welcome. "At worst, I know of women who simply stopped riding their bikes after they got a flat tire." The fix: a women-centric shop. Benson opened Gladys Bikes in Portland, Oregon, in October 2013, with a special focus that quickly caught the attention of riders across the country: saddles.

    "It came out of talking to women about what they didn't like about riding. So many pointed to the saddle," she says. Her shop's saddle library allows customers to pay $25 upfront to try out any number of seats for a week at a time until they find the perfect fit. Once they find "the one" among the shop's 30-plus different saddles, the $25 goes toward its purchase.

    In less than a year, word of the saddle library spread. Benson regularly fields questions on bike fit and requests to join the library from all over the U.S. (The library is only available to walk-in customers.) She points out that informal versions of the library in the form of demo models have been around for years, but she was one of the first to make a point of putting the saddle at the top of the conversation about bike fit.

    leah benson gladys bikes portland oregon she's got next grant davis bike fit saddle bit women's bikes outside outside magazine
    Leah Benson poses with her perfect fit in Portland, Oregon.   Photo: Courtesy of Leah Benson

    "The library gets [women] to understand that they can change out the saddle to find the best fit, instead of assuming that the discomfort is connected to the whole bike," Benson says. "Riding a bike should never be uncomfortable, and what works for you doesn't mean it'll work for me."

    Benson's drive to help women in predominantly male industries didn't start with bikes. Previously, she worked for a Portland-area non-profit that prepared women to enter the construction trades. Just like in construction, she says, "women have been left out of the conversation when it comes to cycling." Though companies like Trek and Specialized have created women's specific bikes, Benson says there's still a need for components that better accommodate the female anatomy, such as handlebars, stems and cranks, and saddles.

    Despite Gladys Bikes' growing national reputation, Benson is keeping her focus on Portland's northeast side, working in her shop to further turn the process of buying a bike into a tactile pleasure. It appears to be working as demonstrated by one unexpected bonus to her progressive take on the bike shop: the sizable number of men who've become loyal customers.

    But don't let that make you think Benson will change her focus. "I'm on a mission to recapture the idea that cycling is also for women," she says. Her shop's name reflects that mission. Gladys, Benson's website explains, was the name of a bicycle that turn-of-the-century women's suffragist Frances Willard taught herself how to ride at age 53. "She believed that the simple act of riding a bicycle could help women gain confidence, claim their independence and be seen as equals to men in skill and ability. We believe the same to be true today," the website reads.

    "Gladys Bike Shop," Benson says, "is my way of helping women get on a bike and keep riding."


    Benson's Guide to Proper Bike Fit

    Get Comfortable. "Find a local shop that listens to you," Benson says. "They should be advocating for you and your riding, not forcing you to buy a bike on their floor. If you're uncomfortable, or feeling uneasy at any moment, leave and try a different shop."

    Find Your Closest Match. "Once you find the bike you want, accept the fact that, like a pair of jeans, no bike is going to fit perfectly off the rack."

    Get it Tailored. "Invest in getting the bike fitted to you, swapping out the saddle, handlebar stem, handlebars, even the brake levers (to accommodate smaller hands) if necessary."

    Climbers: Ditch the Yoga Pants

    Patagonia vanguard Jenna Johnson attacks "Sunny and Steep," a Red Rock Canyon climb rated a 5.11+. Photo: Courtesy of Jenna Johnson

    Climbers: Ditch the Yoga Pants

    Patagonia's Jenna Johnson is on a mission to get women into high-tech gear that can take on real adventures.

    Jenna Johnson has the pedigree to excel at business, with a B.S. in business administration from the University of Arizona and an EMBA from the University of Washington. But her passion for rock climbing is what led her to become Patagonia's head of alpine and equipment divisions, and one of the gear industry's biggest proponents of women's technical equipment.

    "While traveling around the world for a year [after college], I went through Thailand and met up with one of the friends from U of A who was going to Ton Sai to climb," Johnson says. "I fell in love with the climbing scene that was a tight community in the winter of 2000."

    When she returned to the U.S., she met up with a man she met in Thailand (who would later become her husband). The two of them moved into his van and traipsed around the American West, following the seasonal climbing circuit from Flagstaff, Arizona, to Squamish, British Columbia. Along the way, she learned how to crack climb at Indian Creek in Utah and sport climb in Rifle, Colorado. She's consistently knocked out 5.12 routes ever since, her best being a 5.12c.

    Her hobby quickly turned into an asset in the job market. "It's hard to find a core climber who has the experience and skill set to manage a product business," Johnson says. "Patagonia was looking for a climber who could champion climbing both internally as well as externally for the brand and who had a passion for building exceptional product."

    Johnson joined the team as a product line manager for alpine, then quickly moved into her current role as the business unit director for alpine and equipment. In the past four years, she's helped Patagonia develop a new level of performance and fit for women that promises to equip them for their greatest ambitions.

    "I read between the lines, hoping to move the products past the industry's default objective: functionality and a focus on simplicity at the expense of aesthetics," she says. "I believe that function can and should be flattering." In short, Johnson wants to bring the same tactile response that putting on a tailored suit has—where you instantly stand taller and straighter and feel more confident—to technical apparel.

    She finds female climbers' adoption of yoga wear unfortunate. "Women are wearing this stuff because they like how it fits and looks on them," she says. "The problem is the fabrics are quickly shredded by the rock, harness and rope."

    The solution is what Johnson works on every day: "My job is to outfit [women] with technical clothes that fit as well as those yoga clothes and take the punishment," she says. "After all, if you like how you look and like how you feel, you're more likely to go out there and try new things."


    How to Be a Working Dirtbag

    Despite her demanding job as a director with one of the world's biggest outdoor companies, the mother of two still manages to indulge her passion for climbing on a regular basis. Here's how:

    "Do not try to do everything at the same time," Johnson says. "Commit 100 percent to whatever it is you're doing and make sure the people in your life respect that commitment. If you're working, work. If you're with your family, stop thinking about work and stop checking your e-mail. And when you climb, or do whatever it is that you enjoy, you usually have to focus on the task at hand, anyway, or else you risk hurting yourself."

    "When you look to the future, like a climbing trip or something, decide you're going to do it and then just do it," she says. "Stop clouding up your dreams with lists of all the things your need to do before you can go, whether it's childcare, work projects, or training. Just go. I've found the for the most part, things have this amazing habit of working out."

    A few examples of Johnson's handiwork:

    Patagonia's Nano Puff Jacket

    patagonia nano-air hoody nano-air jacket women's gear jenna johnson climbing gear outside outside online outside magazine
      Photo: Courtesy of Patagonia

    Nano Puff fits closer to the body, which makes it more attractive and boosts the insulation's efficiency.

    Patagonia's Nano-Air Jacket

    patagonia nano-air hoody nano-air jacket women's gear jenna johnson climbing gear outside outside online outside magazine
      Photo: Courtesy of Patagonia

    Launched this past fall, Nano-Air is touted as Patagonia's most technically advanced insulation jacket ever. Warm, stretchy, breathable, and closely cut, there's no need to take it off during aerobic start-stop climbs.

    How to Become a Climate Change Activist

    Working with plants showed Lefkowitz the power of the natural world, as well as its fragility. Photo: PetarPaunchev/iStock

    How to Become a Climate Change Activist

    The Director of Programs at the Natural Resources Defense Council on the fights she faces in 2015, and how to get involved.

    Despite growing up in cities such as Washington, DC, and the Hague in the Netherlands, Susan Casey-Lefkowitz always winds up in wild places—mucking in streams, biking through dunes, exploring the woods. But it was her volunteer work as a gardener at Monticello while she was a student at the University of Virginia that formed her commitment to the environment.

    "Gardening through the seasons deepened my appreciation of nature and made me decide that I would go to law school to protect and defend it," Casey-Lefkowitz says.

    Susan Casey-Lefkowitz climate change climate fighter climate activist outside outside magazine outside online she's got next grant davis the current climate activism global warming activism
      Photo: Courtesy of Susan Casey-Lefkowitz

    Early on in her career, she realized how climate change threatens the systems that make the planet livable. She also saw how powerful the fossil fuel industry is when it comes to thwarting government action. In 2000, she joined the Natural Resources Defense Council, a non-profit organization that has helped shape important environmental laws, like the Clean Air Act.

    Since then, Casey-Lefkowitz has been on the front lines of climate change policy development around the globe, working in Latin America, India, China, Europe, and across North America. In particular, she's worked with groups in Canada to address the development of the tar sands, and the battle over the Keystone XL pipeline. We caught up with Casey-Lefkowitz to see what will be on her mind in 2015.

    OUTSIDE: How are you preparing to deal with the Republican-controlled Congress next year?
    Casey-Lefkowitz: 2015 is going to be exciting, to say the least. With the expected attacks on the environment, we need to focus on giving those people who want clean air and water a strong voice and making sure they can be heard.

    Do you think the government will listen to activists?
    If I didn't, there's no way I could go to work every morning. But let me use China as an example of people being heard. The air pollution in Beijing is driving the government to work harder to advance clean energy and curb coal consumption, moving much faster than anyone anticipated.

    Is China succeeding because the population can see pollution's effects, whereas here in the States, pollution is not so apparent?
    Not really. Climate change is starting to feel very real to people. They're making the connection between droughts and violent storms and climate change. I spoke with farmers and ranchers out in Nebraska last September who have noticed a significant change in the landscape due to climate change. They see evidence—and they have to deal with it—every day. Then you've got California and their drought.

    Do you see the current collapse of oil prices as a good thing for the environment? The tar sands in Canada and fracking across the U.S. are suddenly less profitable and facing slowdowns or even shutdowns.
    Honestly, I think the current situation with oil just points to the fact that we need to rely on more stable energy sources, ones that aren't subjected to such dramatic price swings. But the industry cannot claim that it needs the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline to hold oil prices down. The price of oil is not connected to the pipeline.

    As someone addressing the globe's insatiable appetite for fuel, do you even drive a car?
    I walk to and from work every day from my home in Arlington, Virginia, which is four miles each way. On weekends, my husband and I try to get in 10 to 15 miles a day. We're all-weather walkers, and I am true believer in holding meetings while on a walk and using it as a way to explore wherever I am.


    Susan's 3-Step Guide to Becoming an Activist

    1. You have to trust that you can make a difference.

    2. Stay true to what you're fighting for and don't let yourself get sucked into the process or politics of an organization.

    3. Understand that all issues are global and no one person or organization can do it all. You have to find partners to work with and to do that you will have to find common ground.

    Not Now

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