Our Lens: Mountain Stories From People of Color who Shred
Welcome to The Coalition Snow x Elevated Locals YouTube series, "Our Lens," a series about rarely told and rarely represented mountain stories.
Coalition Snow Ambassador Liz Toft, the CEO of Elevated Locals, created this series based on the experiences of the members in Mountaintop. Mountaintop is a virtual community of BIPOC skiers, snowboarders, and snow lovers found in the Coalition Clubhouse. The Coalition Clubhouse is a virtual community created to bring underrepresented genders together to share their stories and resources and build connections.
Liz is a badass, creative snowboarder and Woman of Color who has compiled, shot, and edited footage from our Mountaintop members to tell their mountain stories and help create more visibility for under-represented skiers and snowboarders within the snowsports community. Liz describes the series as the “A collection of snow vision stories celebrating the diverse, radiant perspectives of the Mountaintop BIPOC community. This project weaves together individual experiences while exploring larger themes distinct to members of the BIPOC community.”
The "Our Lens" project is unique for the ski and snowboard industry. These stories are seldom told, and they explain how even where it's technically accessible for BIPOC people to join the sport, there are extra barriers faced from within the industry itself too. Inclusion isn't just being invited, it’s also important to feel welcomed. This is the way forward for building a stronger and more diverse community.
“Understanding other cultures can only make our snowsports community more beautiful. Learning about other cultures is the fertilizer to grow a strong BIPOC snowsport community.” ~ Liz Toft
The project purposely uses footage taken on all types of technology, even smartphones, to make the video itself more accessible and show that not everyone in the sport has access to the best gear. However, that doesn’t mean we aren’t all out there shredding too.
When we caught up with Liz about the film, we asked her what’s different about this film and how she felt making these edits as a BIPOC individual. “My heart beats with this project; it’s so exciting. As I get to know these individuals, I learn so much and they become family. I love reading about and watching professional athletes, but this is our opportunity to show something different.”
The purpose of this project is to amplify the voices of BIPOC skiers and snowboarders and highlight the importance of inclusion within the ski and snowboarding community. Liz has a message for everyone who has felt left out on the mountain: “Your love of the mountain will shine through you, and that light will bring you to your community."
Liz thinks it's important that "instead of focusing on our differences, we focus on our similarities, the common ground in our stories make us a community and help us find each other in our worlds.” We couldn't agree more.
These edits don’t change the realities of the ski and snowboard community, they just highlight them, and show a side that's often left out. The goal of these films is to have these stories told, heard, and represented. At the end of the day, the snowsports world we all know and love should be accessible and fun for everyone. So, we want YOU to help us on our mission to create this representation by watching the series, listening to our stories, and sharing our message...
Being super visible and invisible all at once. While working to heal her body image, Tania makes space for her mixed heritage within her snowboarding community. She lets us know, “It’s not your body- it’s the industry."
Maryem grew up in the Middle East being told certain things were not for women, but then she found snowboarding. Now this mad scientist rules her own world as Mayhem.
Growing up in a multicultural family, Heidi received the love of snow sports from her mom and she learned to show up as she is from her dad. Now trying to spend as much time on the hill with both her kids, she teaches them to thrive in the snow environment.
As a mixed-race child growing up in Canada, Jacinta found it increasingly important to make space for people in sports that are traditionally white. Seeing very few people on the mountain who look like her, Jacinta now works with coalition snow to diversify the mountain and create space for those who generally are not included in snow sports. This is her lens.
For Evin, "Being mixed has always felt like a struggle to “find my people”." Snowboarding and playing in snow has always felt right to Evin. Meeting people, especially women who have similar experiences is especially uplifting. There is space in snowsports for everyone. Evin has enjoyed thriving and shaking things up in snowboarding.
Listen to the Juicy Bits podcast where we interview Liz Toft.