The North Face is doing its part to try to even the playing field for communities of color, which are three times more likely to live in nature-deprived locations and often face racism when they do venture out.
In response, the brand has committed $7 million toward a new global initiative, “Reset Normal,” which is intended to encourage people to reset their lives through exploration of the outdoors. It has partnered with Emmy Award-winning screenwriter, producer and actor Lena Waithe as well as sponsored athlete, climber and Academy Award-winning director Jimmy Chin to launch a fellowship program — the Explore Fund Council. The council will bring together experts across culture, entertainment, academia and the outdoors to develop ideas and potential solutions to help support access to exploration — in whatever form that takes. A full council is expected to be in place by spring 2021.
“For me, exploration has always been a mind-set,” said Waithe. “As a creative, I see myself as a constant, curious explorer and I believe everyone can have and should have access to this right. The only real way to see change happen is by helping to create it yourself. I’m excited to work with The North Face and all of the Explore Fund Council members so our collective perspectives can help diversify the outdoors and make it a more equal place for all.”
Chin added: “Throughout my life, exploration has been a constant source of positivity. I truly believe it is part of what makes us all human, and that exploration can bring people together and change lives. Not everyone has the same access to or opportunity for outdoor adventure. This is an issue I’m excited to take on alongside The North Face and the other Explore Fund Council members.”
Steve Lesnard, global vice president of marketing and product for The North Face, said the brand has had an Explore Fund for a decade, but “2020 has proven we need to radically accelerate that work and…foster a new, more equitable era for the outdoor industry.”
The Reset Normal campaign will launch with a video by Sid Lee, a voiceover from Waithe and music by Aloe Blacc. The North Face athletes and ambassador partners will also create personal pledge videos that share their individual stories and aspirations about how they would like to reset their normal in 2020. The campaign launches today.