After spending a week amongst the towering granite monoliths of Yosemite Valley in 2014, I came home and scribbled down, “My feet are tired but my soul is wide awake.” It succinctly encapsulated how I felt. As an avid outdoor adventurer for nearly 30 years I had experienced this feeling nearly every time I communed with the grandeur of nature.
In 2020 I learned about a woman named Mother Pollard. She was an elder in the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. In 1955-56 she took part in the Montgomery Bus Boycott and refused to ride the segregated buses. Instead she walked everyday for a year. When Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. suggested that, at 72 years old, she might be better off taking the bus she replied, "My feet is tired but my soul is well rested."
I started Waterknot in 2006 with the mission statement, “Design a better world." I have largely aimed to do that by using my art and writing to connect people with each other and to the wild places they love— and then by donating a portion of our sales to environmental organizations.
But now, as I, along with our country and the rest of the world are beginning to wake up to the fact that systemic racism is inherent in every institution in a position of power, I would be remiss if I did not point out the similarities in our “Wide Awake” designs and the words of Mother Pollard.
While the context of her words and mine are completely different—she was fighting for racial justice and equality while I was expressing a feeling of joy from time spent in nature—there does seem to be the common thread that living aligned with your truth can bring about deep feelings of wholeness.
At Waterknot, part of our truth is that we are committed to making sure the outdoors is open, accessible and inviting to all people, including Black, Indigenous and People of Color. Getting outside is regenerative. We need to refill ourselves especially now when we are called to work for justice. So while it may seem an unimportant or even luxurious thing to go outside, it can truly be an inspiration and a lifeline and all people deserve to have this experience.
To honor our commitment, we have expanded the range of organizations to whom we donate a portion of our sales to include these groups who are working directly to make the outdoors more equitable and inclusive:
Greening Youth Foundation engages under-represented youth and young adults from diverse background, while connecting them to the outdoors and careers in conservation.
Outdoor Afro celebrates and inspires Black connections and leadership in nature.
With hope for justice and equality,
Founder, Owner, Designer, Illustrator