We don’t have all the answers - in general, or when it comes to good New Year’s Resolutions.
So we did as we often do for Editions and asked people from across the adventure community - including the authors and interviewees from our twelve favourite AU pieces of 2020 - to propose resolutions for the adventure world. Their responses take all shapes and sizes (as ever, we offered no prescriptions) and are full of wise words. Enjoy!
I suggest everyone writes down the quote from Duane Michals and acts upon it as often as possible: "Trust that little voice in your head that says, 'Wouldn't it be interesting if ...'; and then do it." That’s what I’ve been doing and have felt so alive each time I followed this advice.
And one more resolution is to always look up, not down.
'Trust that little voice in your head that says, 'Wouldn't it be interesting if ...'; and then do it.'
Kristin J. Jacobson
Academic and Author, The American Adrenaline Narrative.
In the past, my most successful resolutions have challenged me to change or adopt a habit. I’ve set resolutions, for example, that focus on not only eliminating something but also creating a new ritual to replace the old. The adventure community as a result of the pandemic has already been challenged in 2020 to rethink if not replace their activities. The new year offers another opportunity to resolve to shift adventure’s narrative.
Why shift? How we engage adventure, frame and tell our stories, and what stories we promote matters. Adventures (and resolutions) predominantly focus on conquering a goal or achieving spiritual transformation or renewal. Adventure, in this sense, often concentrates on the individual’s success, where wilderness serves as the object of our desires — the setting of and vehicle for our transformations. In 2021, let’s risk play in nature in ways that restore the land and our relationship to it and its inhabitants. Doing so requires eliminating parasitic practices in favour of mutual ones.
Changing adventure’s anthropocentric narratives challenges us to think beyond ourselves, beyond heroic narratives, to do the work of environmental justice. Let’s craft and promote stories that shift adventure to more reciprocal, sustainable forms. Perhaps you are already engaged in this work. Resolve to join me in a (renewed) commitment to shift the narrative.
My resolution for inclusion for 2021 is more like a mantra: JUST. BE. BETTER. Outdoorists love a challenge, that type two fun, a suffer fest. Yet many struggle with embracing this admiration of all that is difficult when it comes to inclusion. No more excuses. No more taking the easy route. Change is messy and it’s time to get real dirty.
Academic, Writer and Environmental Activist
In 2021 I would love the adventure community to do more celebrating and more immersing!
Celebrating the fact that we are citizens of ecological communities as well as human ones and that those communities are not just amazing and beautiful but communities we literally cannot live without. Immersing – of big human egos into wild and natural places.
I would love the adventure community to do a whole lot less adventuring, when it’s done in a high-carbon, environmental damaging way, with nature instrumentalised as a backdrop or challenge to be overcome and a conquering mindset. Let that high carbon conquering model of adventure be toast!
Author, Journalist, Adventurer
I find myself rejecting the word 'adventurer' more strongly than ever. What westerners call 'adventure' seems more often in fact luxury, a temporarily chosen hardship; the sort of conditions that the majority of the world's population face daily, or a risk-taking that millions are forced into by necessity rather than wanderlust.
More each year, it seems the biggest challenges a westerner can undertake are neither physical, nor individual, but social and political. They are also challenges that begin closer to home than we think, even if some carry global implications. The lure to get 'out there' distracts from the colossal work waiting to be done 'in here'.
You can support Julian's writing and local bookshops here.
Writer, artist and advocate for women and diversity in the UK outdoors
It sounds really worthy, but my New Year’s Resolution for 2021 is to develop different ways to use my space online to do more good. This might be sharing my local travel and experiences, profiling interesting projects focused on creating change or promoting the stories of underrepresented voices in travel, adventure and environment. I don’t know what 2021 is going to throw at us, but this is something that I know that whether we are in lockdown or not, whether I am travelling or not, I can still achieve. I think that’s quite important for resolutions moving forward (and for our own sanity).
Travel writer and editor
2020 has been a year of contraction, and it will be tempting to see 2021 as a year of expansion -- people will want to travel, fly, climb mountains, set records, have all the adventures they've been prevented from having this year. While I understand this urge, my resolution will be to stay as humble as I can. Go slowly. Tread lightly on the earth. I'm still breathing in from this year, trying to process where we are, and it will be a while before I can start to breathe out again.
Runner and founder of New Story Run
I would LOVE for everyone in the outdoor community to move the focus off individuals (in terms of climate action) and onto organisations/groups with wider influence!
- Brands have a responsibility to rework their business model to tackle consumerism and stop people buying things they don’t need. It’s not up to individuals to resist the forces of advertising and sales one by one.
- Media/mags/films could start showcasing low-carbon stories as a rule (not as a ‘one off feature’), and give much less or no coverage of high-emission adventures or behaviours. It’s not up to each individual to resist the lifestyle we ‘sell’!
- It’s up to employers to encourage and facilitate low-carbon choices for their staff - both at work and outside of it. For example, a brand sponsoring an athlete should provide more time and money to enable low-carbon options. All employers could use Climate Perks: a really awesome resource that helps organisations support low-carbon travel options for their employees.
- Influencers (or sponsored athletes etc.) might be an exception to the ‘take the focus off individual action’ rule, because their job involves deliberately influencing others, usually to buy stuff (that they probably don’t need).
- So, influencers have a responsibility to challenge the brands they work with, and ask questions: What is their sustainability policy? What are they doing to combat consumerism and not rely on this as their business model? Are they considering how they can exist without making people buy stuff they don’t need? Is their latest campaign/report a greenwash, and if so, how can I call it out?
- They also have a responsibility to question their own posts and actions: Does the image I put out promote always having the latest kit, or having 300 pairs of running shoes? Or can it show you going to the crag in mostly the same kit that you’ve clearly loved for years and years? Does it promote flying all over the world and/or driving very polluting cars, or can it show me getting the bus and train?
- Societies and clubs can do many of the above things too - especially making low-impact travel the norm and celebrating a culture of keeping old kit going and discouraging consumerism.
So what if you are just one individual and desperate for a really great resolution? Channel your input into whatever groups, workplaces, or societies you are connected to and help get this wider change going!
Filmmaker and Founder of Passion Fruit Pictures
In 2021, I'd love to see each individual in the adventure community share their love of an activity or sport with at least one other person by accompanying that person on their 'first time'. Typically, someone might be keen to try something new, but first-time nerves and uncertainties may hold them back from even starting. Not only that, accessibility issues could be at play, and by having a trusted friend or family member helping them to get started, this might just show them what’s possible and kick start a new passion.
Journalist and author
Where adventure brands are concerned, there is much work to be done. I’d like to see people who are Asian, Black, and from other underrepresented backgrounds featuring on advertising campaigns, and indeed, given marketing roles and the power to create inclusive ads. Advertising is a powerful force and the adventure community needs to step up on this front.
I’d also like to see established, well-known adventurers acknowledging the legacy of colonialism, and how historically, one person’s adventure may have involved the subjugation of others. How voices have been suppressed in the name of exploration and adventure.
I also think we need to be wary of putting people in boxes and projecting our own limited perspective on others. Someone from an underrepresented background is a nuanced human being, with varied passions and experiences under their belt and not simply a walking social statement.
Finally, as Adventure Uncovered has been exploring so brilliantly, what is adventure? If 2020 has taught me anything it is that exploration is a mindset – the exhilaration of a good wander can be experienced close to home. Not everyone has the money to buy gear and to travel further afield or even the luxury of time. And it’s worth remembering too that some journeys, ones that involve crossing seas and borders at great peril, are not undertaken for fun.
Filmmaker, Never Not Collective
Walking into 2021 I’m hoping the outdoor community continues to see and understand how we are just a smaller part of a greater whole. Within our community this means being more inclusive and less focused on the “I” for a singular pursuit. On a bigger scale it can mean understanding how our actions can have an effect on the greater community, good and bad. At the end of this year recreation and many outdoor sport may have felt more frivolous than ever in light of the harsh realities for many all over the world, but at the same time those of us who love these spaces find our heart and souls in the outdoors perhaps have never appreciated them as much as we do now. Many things are fleeting many things unknown, love each other, spread joy and appreciate every day you get to do something you love.
Founder, Adventurous Ink
In years to come we will look back on 2021 as a watershed year, when everything changed. We won’t go from 2020’s ‘new normal’ back to the old normal.
The old norms are gone. As we shepherd in a new future we must do so mindfully, and grasp the opportunity to do things differently.
We have learnt a lot this year about the true benefit of our connection with nature. We are the lucky ones, us outdoor folk. Our affinity with the natural world provided a ready escape from the pent-up pressures of the pandemic.
We made our own luck with a willingness to wonder at the simplest of pleasures.
It’s often said that time spent outdoors is a great way of building resilience, referencing the physical and emotional toughness that comes from pitting yourself against the uncaring elements. However, this year has shown a softer side to that resilient connection. Simply being out there, immersing ourselves in the natural world has provided a much-needed boost to our wellbeing.
So we need to stop treating the natural world as our weekend retreat, a playground divorced from our everyday lives. We must realise that we are part of nature, with all the benefits and responsibilities that bestows.
We must stop fashioning a fake future of ‘progress’ measured in speeds, distances, heights and grades. True growth, true meaning, true benefit comes from going deeper. Not further, faster, higher or harder.
This is what I hope we take from the old into the new. We don’t have much time. We must use it well.
Founder, Sidetracked Magazine
A lot of us are probably seeking to do something memorable this year. But for me, it’s all about marginal gains – both in work and life. Through Sidetracked, we simply want to do better. That is to share more inspiring stories, help more people to achieve their goals and dreams and support organisations who are making positive steps within the adventure world. And in life it's much the same: improve health and fitness, and spend some time exploring my local area. We all seek far-flung corners of the world but it’s amazing what you can find in your own backyard.