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Dear Stronghold community,
We want to let you know areas where we are putting our energy as a part of the nationwide uprising to dismantle white supremacy and state violence against black people. Some of these actions are quick and you can join us in them now, and some are long-term projects. Let's keep the momentum going.
  • Joining in protests. Getting our voice out there, while taking precautions to minimize the spread of COVID-19.
  • Ensuring space at the Stronghold for black people and people of color. Climbing has been dominated by (abled, hetero, cisgender) white men. We want to foster an inclusive space for all people - including black, brown, female, LGBTQ, deaf, and disabled people - to be empowered to grow as climbers and feel welcome. We will fund and promote Climb the Gap and other organizations that support diversity in climbing, value diversity on our staff, listen to the experiences of our customers when issues related to race come up, and use our special events to highlight the experiences of people of color in the outdoors.
  • Learning. An amazing local resource is black-owned independent bookstore Eso Won Books (in Leimert Park); they specialize in books related to the African-American experience and even have many great books under $10. The top book recommendation from the owner of Eso Won: "Chokehold: Policing Black Men”, by Paul Butler. Thanks to our members and staff who are amplifying black voices and sharing information via social media- this has also helped us learn.
  • VOTING. We look forward to making change at the ballot box on November 3. If you are eligible to vote and not yet registered, you can register online now.
  • Letting our City Council and Mayor know that we demand changes in the city budget. Police are often tasked with responding to issues arising from mental illness, homeslessness, and drug use that are better addressed by other means. We need to fund solutions to these problems, which will reduce the burden on the police. This means shifting money from the police budget to mental health, housing support, food security, education, and programs that support wellness. See and also for instance How To Keep Our Children Safe: A Mother Explains Why We Must Defund Police.
  • Calling for police accountability so that every citizen can have confidence in our police forces. This also requires addressing cases of excessive force via the courts which is why we support the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.
  • Telling our City Council we do not support modification of the Municipal Code to arm our park rangers with guns, (you can comment on this proposal here). Guns on rangers would work against their mission of connecting with the public as land stewards.
  • Reexamining our suppliers. We learned that Warren Kanders, Executive Director of the Clarus Corp, which is the parent company of Black Diamond and ClimbOn! as well as an ammo company, also leads the Safariland group, whose products have been used to teargas peaceful protesters and asylum seekers at the border. We recognize that the root problem is that tear gas is in heavy demand by state forces for unjust use, but we view enriching a tear gas profiteer as an undesirable business relation. We won't be buying more from Black Diamond or ClimbOn! until this connection is resolved. We will direct profits from the sale of our existing inventory to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and local organizations fighting for change. We love BD and want to help it be rid of its dark overlords.
  • Striving to support our local business economy and especially black-owned and POC-owned businesses. Black-owned restaurants and food businesses in our area are listed here.
  • Recognizing racism in the outdoors and advocating for a social environment where black, brown, female, LGBTQ, deaf, and disabled people can enjoy the outdoors in peace. As long as black people have to deal with racism while birdwatching, or multiracial families are harassed while camping, or going for a jog is a death sentence, we have work to do.
  • Acknowledging our privilege to pursue climbing and working to widen our circle. Climbing requires leisure time, mentors, and money. We will share climbing with kids and adults that might not otherwise have had the chance by continuing to waive fees for programs with local schools and civic groups. We gratefully acknowledge the help of Climb the Gap in organizing volunteers to help introduce new climbers to the sport in our gym.
  • Recognizing we will need to make continuous efforts to bring the operations of the gym in closer alignment with our ideals. We don’t have all the answers now and we need to move forward with empathy and willingness to change.
We are grateful for the diverse and beautiful people of Los Angeles and around the country leading change. We wish you well until we can climb with you at the gym again. We are preparing for that day! We’ll save that for another mail, and in the meantime, please take care of yourselves.
In solidarity with the black lives matter movement,
The Stronghold
The Stronghold Climbing Gym
650 South Avenue 21
Los Angeles, CA 90031
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