Our #wcw this week is Outdoor Women's Alliance Founder Gina Bégin. If you'd like to learn more about OWA and Gina, take a listen to this awesome podcast from our friend Kristen Carpenter-Ogden, found here.
What is your day job?
As the founder, I volunteer with Outdoor Women's Alliance (OWA) 40-60 hours a week (no pay), so I would say that that is my day work. ;) However, to make ends meet, I am a freelance writer and occasional photographer for my stories and other freelance photography projects. I've written for various magazines and online publications, such as Outside Magazine, Huffington Post, Mountain Magazine, etc., but with trying to strike a work-life balance, I've focused my writing down to just two clients and spend the rest of my time with my co-volunteers and community at OWA.
Sports: I've been struggling with a major injury in 2014 that wasn't corrected due to medical malpractice. It changed my life drastically, especially as the founder of an outdoor-focused nonprofit. The uninjured, healthy version of me would immediately claim skiing and rock climbing, with ice climbing, whitewater kayaking and mountain biking as follow ups. Right now, though, I'm happy just to get outdoors at all in any form. I'm trying to get into cross country skiing—something I thought I'd never be into because I always preferred moving downhill on skis—but found with the injury that I can take it at my own pace. It's nice because with my other sports, I still expect my body to perform at the level it used to and my mind has a hard time dealing with the fact that my body isn't functioning the same anymore. With trying a new sport, I don't get frustrated by those expectations.
Hobby: I grew up in Florida and was a hip hop dancer through high school, performing on a Florida T.V. dance show as a dancer and working as the choreographer of my own dance team. I still love hip hop dancing with friends, but living in my small town in Canada, there aren't as many opportunities.
Who has inspired you lately? Why?
My twin brother and sister-in-law. The next generation has always been a huge focus in my life and as a goal with OWA's future programming. My brother and sister-in-law are the ideal of selflessness and patience, always putting their large family of little ones first, even before work and always before their own needs. I'm awed by their dedication to family, working hard to provide them with new experiences and hands-on learning opportunities, and with their unending patience and excitement over the littlest things the kids want to show them (which is constant! :).
At least in my experience working with youth in Florida, many kids don't have this kind of upbringing—parents either had their own agenda or worked multiple jobs to make ends meet. But I would love to help more youth have it in their life, even when they can't experience at home. My brother and sister-in-law are an example of the hope I started OWA with—programming that would emulate that kind attention, hands-on learning and growth for kids; especially young women.
Who do you hope to inspire?
Eventually, my own children, if I'm lucky enough to have any. But either way, the next generation of young women. In youth, I see the "seeking for common ground" understanding that all youth seem to have, but that so many of us lose along our path to adulthood—especially now with the bickering and holier-than-thou opinions that occur on social media channels. Our generation seems to have forgotten that there are many views on life, many life experiences that shape those views, and because of that, each person's idea of a subject is correct to them for a reason. Putting others down and being the loudest "shouter" has never done anything to change a belief system. Understanding and humble examples have.
I see that promise in youth, as long as they can hold onto the common-ground approach to relationships with their fellow human beings. I try to foster that feeling in conversations within OWA.
How do you #liveboldly?
Quietly. For a long time, my personal social channels were super active, and I enjoyed getting out there and sharing what I was doing. But after working professionally in social media marketing for years and seeing the rise of "influencer" campaigns, even being sought out by major outdoor companies as an influencer for their marketing purposes, I just felt, well, hollow. Social media started feeling very self-centered, so a couple of years ago I cut my my personal social media use down by probably 90-95% and rolled that time to focusing on social media at OWA. At OWA, it's always been the mission to highlight what others are doing, especially the "every day" women, and it feels much more fulfilling than promoting myself. I want to use my organization's platform to help as many women as possible in our community, from the oceans of my Florida home state to the volcanic mountains of Indonesia, have a moment where they feel special and recognized for their adventures and abilities.
What are you most excited for in 2018?
Launching our expanded Grassroots Program, an extension of our Grassroots Teams at OWA. We've had a lot of hiccups along the way, since we're all volunteers at OWA and trying to build something that hadn't been created before. Once it's ready, we'll be able to deliver on something that's been requested of our Grassroots Program for years at OWA—the ability to for women to create local adventure communities even outside of our regional teams.
You can follow Outdoor Women's Alliance on all of your favorite social channels.
@outdoorwomen on Instagram and Pinterest, @womenoutdoors on Twitter