Kicking off our interview series with a great set of responses from Dynamite Starfish ambassador @sonofpears! We’re so excited to be sharing some of these stories with you.
Q1: To start, a few ways you identify yourself... (some examples: name, age, pronouns, type of work you do...) But really, anything you believe is important.
A1: Pearson (he/him). I'm a food sovereignty and community resilience advocate at a food recovery nonprofit, and I've been climbing off-and-on for about ten years. I live in Los Angeles during the week, but on the weekends my partner Meg and our dog Scully will load into our van and ride Vanny DeVito out of town.
Q2: How did you start climbing?
A2. I was first introduced to climbing by my college roommate while living in Vermont. Connor took me and another friend out to this super short sport crag that's actually just this bizarre rock face that was exposed by cutting the hillside to make way for train tracks. During the second or third climb of the day, we could hear the train blaring its horn a few miles away. When it finally came by, we had moved the rope bag and our gear off the tracks, and Dylan was hangdogging above the train, somehow totally unfazed. That was a pretty transformative experience, to say the least. I've been hooked ever since.
Q3: What impact has climbing had on your life?
A3: The greatest impact that climbing has had on my life has been in the realm of conversations with fear. I've had Generalized Anxiety Disorder since I was young, and it has just been a constant in my life that I always thought I would just have to suffer through. Climbing really changed the way that I view fear and its purpose, and in opening the door for conversations with my fear, I have become much more adept at managing my anxiety. I think that people always think about fear as something that you can 'conquer' or just ignore, but I've found that climbing showed me that fear isn't the same every time. Sometimes fear can be useful. Sometimes it can be a distraction. But it's never something that you should seek to conquer. Climbing taught me to view fear as a notification. Have you checked in with your surroundings recently? It's like a prompt to check in with my mental state. Am I afraid of getting injured from falling, or am I afraid of committing to this move and potentially failing? Am I afraid because I'm putting myself in a truly reckless position, or am I nervous because I'm climbing at my limit? I've taken these lessons into my personal life as well, and my ability to mitigate the impacts of my anxiety has grown tremendously. Having active conversations with your fear is a necessary part of being a better climber, and I think it's a necessary part of being a better human too.
Q4: What are some other things you do that you find most fulfilling?
A4:I love introducing people to climbing, and I think that this is particularly important when it comes to the importance of diversity and equity in outdoor sports. The mentorship gap in climbing is already such an issue, and this is compounded for underrepresented groups. I love volunteering with Climb the Gap and always enjoy taking people on their first outdoor climbing experience. If I'm not climbing or talking about climbing, you will almost certainly find me talking about the concept of place and place-based work, or at the very least, raving about the beauty of liminal spaces.
Q5: If you could tell the world one thing, what would it be?
A5: I'd like to tell a story that my grandfather told me. It's not a particularly unique story or message, but I think it's always worth repeating. An elderly man was walking down the beach one morning when he saw a child surrounded by sand dollars. As the old man watched, the child would reach down to pick up a sand dollar, and one by one, they would throw it back into the ocean. After watching this go on for quite some time, the old man finally asked them, "What are you doing?" The child responded without looking up, "I'm saving these starfish." The old man watched for a bit longer, looked down the beach at all the sand dollars and back to the small patch the child was clearing. "There must be a million sand dollars out here, and you're out here all alone. What difference can you possible you make?" The child turned to the man with a sand dollar in their hand, tossed it back into the water, and said, "To that one, I made all the difference."