A 2019 Emerald Lens Introduction

A 2019 Emerald Lens Introduction

The truth is: sometimes I am afraid of what I write. You should be a little afraid of the story you are telling, too. And if you’re not afraid that someone won’t like it you’re still not telling the truth.

- Lacy M. Johnson, Here

To those already here,

I know it’s been a little quiet around here on the Emerald Lens. I’ve been taking some time to step back and get clear on a lot of things, this space included. Well, no, scratch that. Summer is always wild - I’ve been advocating for guides in my 501(c)3 work and hauling heavy boxes and boats around in my guiding work. The clarity hasn’t come until this fall, when I’ve finally had a chance to breathe again. You know this feeling, I know.

Sometimes staying broad is a shield against failure and vulnerability. In this blog I’ve written about everything from grief to fly fishing to skiing to guiding to feminism. I’ve written informally, formally, in listicle, for friend’s weddings, for friend’s funerals or when I’m mad as hell. Some posts go viral and get tens of thousands of views, some come and go quietly. This space has served as everything from a college journal to a freelance portfolio.  

The upcoming year marks my tenth year of writing under the Emerald Lens label. I’m known for saying things like, “Branding is for soda, not writing!” and “If you don’t find what you’re looking for, check back again soon - topics circle around.” I’ve used my May 22 Gemini birthday as all sort of excuse for why I like a LOT of things going on at once.

But being too busy, by staying vague, you also never fail, because you’re never really trying. Humans will never be able to express our full lives in an online space - but we can choose a corner to speak to and for. I, like you, am a person with a dozen different interests that fade in and out. It felt dishonest to portray myself as anything else online, especially as this space has grown and so many of you only know me through this platform. But I’ve been thinking a lot about what I save just for me, for Casey, for my family, and for my IRL friends. I’ve been exploring what it looks like to hone in on a topic - both to serve my audience better and to keep my own mental health in check.

Here’s the deal. I believe in representing an honest, rural, progressive, outdoorswoman experience. I believe you have to see it to be it. I want to show that guiding, fishing, hunting - living in places like Salmon, Idaho - can go hand in hand with advocating for gender equity in career and relationships, supporting and listening to marginalized groups, and protecting the public land that surrounds us. I don’t just want us to survive outdoor careers, I want them to thrive in them.

I think too often it’s painted that we must choose. I was on a call with someone I’m doing a speaking event with this spring, and he mentioned he thought it was strange there wasn’t more crossover between his female outdoor program leaders and the university’s women’s program. But I wasn’t surprised at all. Because I remember my first months of college wondering if I was going to be a “women’s studies” kid or a “environmental/outdoorsy” kid. It didn’t cross my mind that I could be both.

You have to see it to be it. What do we want to see?

I want to see women not only joining outdoor sports, but taking leadership roles in them. I don’t just want women taking fly fishing 101 classes, I want them to have the language and support to talk with their employer about why they never get to be lead guide on the water. I don’t just want women liking each other’s hiking Instagram photos, I want us following and supporting women of color in the outdoors who challenge our worldview. I don’t just want more women entering the guiding industry, I want more women feeling supported by their outfitter to continue guiding (on their own terms!) during motherhood.

I want to note that to participate in outdoor sports at all, we often operate from a place of privilege. I believe strongly that the financial and cultural barriers to outdoor sports and careers need to be addressed - and I try to recognize all the ways I’ve had it easier in my career and outdoor pursuits as a white woman. So much of what I might write about here I am not inventing. I’m cycling these thoughts through our framework of the outdoors and our sports so we can better understand, but a lot of this intellectual work has already been done by activists, women of color, indigenous people, the LGBTQ community and more. I’ll do my best to give credit where credit is due. I will try my best to GET THE HELL OUT OF THE WAY and put center stage womxn from groups more marginalized than me.

Even if this shift doesn’t resonate with you, I hope you stick around. While it might not be your voice, you all have women in your lives, in your workplaces, in your families. As one of my editors of this piece said well, “The lack of gender equity in our world hurts men too, not just the women they love. And it also creates disparity for those who identify outside of the gender binary.”

Regardless of what context you come from, I promise this matters to you too. And there will still be some river descriptions and fish analogies… I know it’s the way we understand our world.

Oh wait! Before you go, a few new things. What to expect. I’m aiming for writing one piece a month about the intersection of feminism, recreation and our outdoor workplaces. I’ll also feature one guest writer per month.

If you would like to join the conversation, we’re accepting writing submissions, or I’m always open to you bringing your ideas to the table. Learn more about contributor guidelines here or shoot me an e-mail here.

And in the Emerald Lens monthly newsletter I’ll include ALL that, along with a newsletter-exclusive book review and link recommendations. You can subscribe here.

And finally, I’m also building some advisors for this space, to make sure I’m on the right track (more on that soon). So if you read something here and are like WTH girl… tell me why I’m wrong AND why you carry a viewpoint I’m missing. Who knows, maybe we’ll be lucky enough to getcha on board.

With love,

EL

South Fork of the Snake

South Fork of the Snake