#MeToo – A Public Health Epidemic

 Originally published on April 5, 2018 in Women’s eNews

In the United States, 25% of women and 17% of men will be sexual abused or assaulted in their lifetimes. Even more disturbing, every 98 seconds an individual is sexually assaulted based on reports by the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization.

These rates of sexual assault are far higher than the rates of breast cancer diagnosis or childhood poverty, indicating that sexual harassment is a significant social issue with even broader consequences, including homelessness, incarceration, lack of education, and mental and physical ailments. Furthermore, 26 public-school districts across the U.S. agreed in 2017 to at least $37 million in settlements resulting from allegations of sexual harassment or sexual assault of students, teachers or other employees based on reports from The Wall Street Journal.

Clearly, this is a pervasive and deeply rooted problem. Jane Fonda, celebrity actor and activist, has suggested that “in order to root out the problem today, we must understand that working-class women, women of color, trans women, and disabled women constantly experience harassment, assault, and rape—and they’re more likely to be fired if they speak up.” Others have emphasized the importance of companies publishing statements that reaffirm the commitment to ethical and supportive reporting processes in response to the recent sexual harassment allegations made against high ranking officials and men in a variety of professional fields.

Despite the steady momentum that has carried sweeping changes and the firing of high profile men in public postings, sexual harassment lawyers have indicated that sexual harassment is incredibly difficult to prove legally, as it requires severe or pervasive behaviors to have merit in the courts. This supports the claim that businesses, academia, and professional organizations must reevaluate their conduct policies and procedures.

Given the continued difficulty of discerning red tape and societal pressures to view sexual harassment and violence as more than simply an internal policy issue or women’s issue, it is essential that businesses and organizations alike are educated on the impact and prevalence of sexual harassment. The current political climate and the general lack of public knowledge has led to a perpetuation of what the Chronicle of Philanthropy called a “culture of silence.” A 2017 web poll conducted by The Business Journal indicated that 66 percent of respondents had witnessed or experienced sexually inappropriate behavior in the workplace.

Evidently, the silent status quo has allowed sexual misconduct and inappropriate behavior to prevail in professional settings. And, although the #MeToo movement experienced its Malcolm Gladwell style “tipping point” in the past year following the Harvey Weinstein allegations and the outpouring of white female actresses acknowledging their sexual assault experiences, this began long before the social media wave. Instead, the first #MeToo campaign began with Black activist Tarana Burke in 2006. Before this, Anita Hill brought sexual harassment into the spotlight while withstanding humiliation in 1991, and still earlier were legal cases brought forth as early as 1975 by brave African American women seeking fair treatment in the workplace.

Considering the prevalence of sexual assault and its dire consequences, it is quite clear more protections are needed in the workplace. That said, until we change as a society, these policy changes may be limited in their impact. This is not to say that organizations should resist the societal pressures to increase accountability and provide workplace anti-harassment training. Instead, we should be aware of the reactive nature of many policies and consider the likeliness that workplace trainings won’t be beneficial until preventative, societal level measures are successfully integrated.

When the Timing Is (Not) Right

Right now, the world is in recovery. It is also in bloom.

It is reasonable at a time like this to feel the cabin fever, after weeks spent inside, apart from loved ones. It is reasonable to desire a change of scenery, or a trip outdoors. It perhaps is even reasonable to want to participate, as a previously locked-down, quarantined public, in activities that invigorate our sense of hope and life energy: camping, backpacking, hiking, and generally visiting our beautiful state and national parks (and surrounding BLM lands). Now is not the time.

Just yesterday, May 7, officials at Gunlock State Park made the difficult decision to shut off the falls below Gunlock Reservoir due to excessive crowding. Hundreds gathered in close proximity, leaving over “5-trailers-worth of litter” at the site. Other Southern Utah state parks, such as Sand Hollow and Snow Canyon, have reached capacity by early morning or afternoon. Still others, such as Quail Creek and Goblin Valley, have restricted visitors. Bryce Canyon and Arches will both be opening this weekend or in the near future, however, the limited capacities in addition to the large number of out-of-state visitors may cause unknown amounts of harm to the limited infrastructure in BLM sites surrounding capped out parks.

The potential for great ecological damage and health concerns that visitation may cause at the present time leads one to consider staying home at while longer. Spring can be enjoyed at our doorsteps and in local municipal parks. The “great outdoors” may draw us in, but we should ultimately act more responsibly – and visit our favorite public treasures at a later date – if we want to remain in good health and prevent further spreading of the pandemic.

Originally published May 8, 2020

Running through a Pandemic

It is remarkable how much day-to-day life has changed since the world went into lockdown into response to the COVID-19 pandemic. And while some state, county, and city governments have begun the gradual re-opening of businesses, we are still in a time of great uncertainty. Our favorite climbing gyms, yoga classes, and sports complexes feel like bygone places, viewed with wistful, wary eyes. Hence the rise of running; the return to bipedality in its original form. It seems a bit peculiar to think that so many of us have chosen to bypass this innate ability to pursue other means of exercise. Despite this, we now have the opportunity to return to roots and run through this pandemic, together (in spirit). If you choose to join in on the fun, consider the following tips:

1. Run during the day or in a well-lit area. This will keep you safe and also decrease your chances of injury due to lack of visibility. An alternative is to run with a headlamp.

2. If running with a friend, maintain a safe distance of at least six feet. Social distancing still applies!

3. Pick a motivating podcast, audiobook, or playlist to keep you moving. Here is one of my favorites for when I pound the pavement.

4. Track your runs. Apps like MapMyRun, Fitbit, and others can provide you with information regarding distance, pace, caloric expenditure, elevation gain, and cadence, all of which can be used to measure improvement over time.

5. Mix it up. You have an abundance of options – so consider changing up your routine and going a different way the next time you go out for a jaunt.

P.S. Furry friends make great running partners! I borrowed Marley (featured in the photo) when I ran the trails in Round Valley this past weekend.

Enjoy your run and stay safe out there!


Originally published May 5, 2020

Javelin: A Legacy

I was a collegiate athlete in a past life, competing as a track and field athlete for both Stanford University and the University of Utah. What you might not know, however, is that much of my success as a javelin thrower stems from the importance of it in my family, and namely, to my coach and mother, Niki Nye Glasmann.

Niki, pictured here, was a breathtaking competitor. She was a collegiate athlete at Weber State College and later at the University of Texas at Austin, where she set the (only recently broken) school record of 182 feet 6 inches. It held there for nearly thirty years. Niki was also alternate for the 1988 U.S. Olympic team.

Considering my mother’s incredible athletic accomplishments, it is difficult to fathom the heartbreak of a career ending injury – that of a torn labrum and bicep tendon in her shoulder – and the subsequent grief over the loss of what could have, or would have, occurred in the years following. Yet, in place of those unjustly stolen competition years, she has invested nearly two decades in the pursuit of her legacy: through the coaching of myself and my three younger siblings in the sport of javelin throwing.

In the upcoming season, I can only hope to have some of that searing competitive edge, unparalleled raw talent, and mental toughness that my mom embodies to this day. It is an honor to be a part of her legacy.

Originally published Jan 25, 2020 

Ski Touring: what to expect on your first trek, plus dogs

To start off, it’s worth noting my total novice status in this particular area of ski activities. I grew up waterskiing, and frequently downhill and classic xc ski, but had never used skins to “earn my turns” before. Ike on the other hand is an animal, skinning up frequently and loving the picturesque and serene nature of the sport. So, for the holiday season, he gifted me a set of custom cut skins for my fat skis and a pair of Daymakers to convert my bindings for touring use.

Cut to the day of: early morning start, at 6:00AM, we got our skins set up, boots in walk mode, and began the long walk up a trail in the Oquirrh mountains in search of powder. But along the way I ran into a host of issues (anticipated by Ike), including hot spots in my boots, wearing too much clothing, and various aches and pains, probably made worse by our coffee-only breakfast. Once we got to the top, it was clearly worth the effort, but there are some definitive steps I’ll be taking next time – and you should before you head out for your first time – to make things more enjoyable.

1. No Cotton. No, really. This one should be obvious, but it’s worth noting, as some under layers that are great for other activities like yoga, running, or cycling just don’t make the cut for an activity that is going to span three – six hours through a variety of conditions and temperatures. Once your cotton or cotton-mix material gets wet, it gets cold, and that’s not a fun time. Reach for your wool base layers instead! You won’t regret it.

2. Take a trial run of your equipment. Daymakers, backcountry avalanche gear, and skins are super cool, but they can also be awkward, frustrating, and heavy! By taking time before your trip to test out your set up, you can avoid issues arising on your day out. Some though, like boot hot spots, may be undetectable until you are actually skinning.

3. Eat before. Even if you aren’t a breakfast person. Trust me on this! You’re probably going to burn around 3000-4000 calories in your trek, given the rate of 800-1000 calories per hour of trudging (gliding?) through the snow uphill. By fueling your body before you go, you’ll be a much better travel companion.

4. Stretch/roll out your sore spots the night before and morning of. Warm up is underrated. Your body will react in unexpected ways to a novel activity like ski touring. Make it easier on yourself by warming up instead of jumping in cold.

5. Enjoy the journey. The powder might not turn out to be super fresh; you might be tired at the top, and expectations could be missed. But that’s not really the point – touring offers a certain kind of mobile meditation that can be easily overlooked if you focus too much on the destination. So don’t miss the bliss!

6. Go with a buddy (and preferably one with ski touring experience!) I went with Ike, and I felt comfortable knowing that he was familiar with the sport, equipment, and area we were skiing. This is particularly important if you are going in an area that is avalanche prone or out of service range!

The very good boys!

Last note – dogs make trips like this so much more fun, but you have to be careful not to trip over them or take them through too deep of snow!

Hope your first ski tour goes smoothly and that you can enjoy what the mountains have to offer, outside the resort!

Originally published Jan 23, 2020

Nobody Lives Here

Curious, right? We are so obsessed with where we are, and what we wear, or what we are doing, that most of human history has created maps of where people live. A cartographer, Nikolaus “Nik” Freeman, flipped this idea on its head by constructing a reverse population density mapping of the United States. Based on 2010 U.S. Census data, he found that “4,871,270 blocks totaling 4.61 million square kilometers were reported to have no population living inside them.” This is the same as saying that 47% of USA soil is not home to well, anyone – despite there being more than 310 million people! The map, titled Nobody Lives Here, is available for purchase on paper or can be used freely online as an interactive tool.

Given that there is so much space where nobody lives, we should definitely take advantage of our natural landscapes – while at the same time, working to protect these spaces.

If you are interested in reading more about Nik’s map, check out these other articles by Big Think and the Smithsonian!

Originally published Feb 21, 2019

Historical Survival Tips, Feat WWII

Ever wondered about what it might have been like to abruptly travel and live in a foreign country? Add to it the setting of American soldiers fighting on European soil in the earlier half of the twentieth century, and you’ll find yourself needing to read the tongue-in-cheek, albeit quite seriously intentioned, Instructions for American Servicemen in Britain, issued by the United States War Department in 1942. This brief pamphlet details the tough job ahead for the intended reader, the American servicemen, who were going “to meet Hitler and beat him on his own ground” (pg. 3). So, what tips can be garnered from this archival, and nearly obsolete, set of bound pages? Take a look: (1) One of our most important strengths (or weapons in wartime) is “plain, common horse sense; understanding of evident truths” (pg. 4). Often overlooked in our checklists and outsourcing of knowledge is simple common sense! Make sure to trust your gut; mistakes can be much costlier in outdoor settings. (2) “Don’t be a show off” (pg. 6). This one is also pretty important – and ties back to common sense. We all get the urge at times to present our best possible selves to others watching; we try things that are more difficult or dangerous than we might have otherwise. While this affliction affects some more than others, it is necessary for all of us to keep it in mind. (3) Accomplishment does not simply come from travel alone. “Remember that crossing the ocean doesn’t automatically make you a hero” (pg. 21). Survival tips do not exist in a vacuum. Instead, much of what we consider worth surviving is based on its merit, in the form of accomplishment. Yet, the travel alone to a destination is not worthwhile in and of itself unless you have actively engaged with the environment in some way. In other words, make sure that you are doing more than just passively taking in a view – it is one thing to visit the Grand Canyon and gaze over its breathtaking rim; it is quite another thing to hike down into its valleys and return unscathed. But then you ought to be the latter kind anyhow if you’re reading this! (4) “New cheerfulness and a new determination [can be] born out of hard times and tough luck” (pg. 23). At the root of it, survival is about instinct and intrinsic drive to win (or at least stay alive). (5) Don’t let stress get the best of you – an especially don’t let it ruin your relationships with other people that you are traveling with. “It is militarily stupid to insult your allies” (pg. 23). Things come up, but when you’re faced with difficult or frightening scenarios, it is always better to remain united and discuss qualms at a later time. As in after the trip is over. (6) Ration wisely, and plan ahead for needing more water or food than you think you might need. If this means stashing water at more sites than you think necessary for a backpacking or bikepacking trip, do it! “Waste means lives” (pg. 24). In the case of wartime, wasting resources meant destroying lives – this can be readily applied to survival in an outdoor sense. Simply put, don’t waste anything – and leave no trace. (7) “Be friendly – but don’t intrude anywhere it seems you are not wanted” (pg. 29). This can apply to both other people and animals. Just as you should not enter another camper’s space, you also should be aware of whose house you are sprawling in while hiking through a national park, biking through a wilderness area, or fishing in a secluded creek. Be friendly – but be smart about it. Originally published Feb 20, 2019