Terra Incognita Media Fund

$3,610 of $10,000 goal

Raised by 68 people in 20 months
ONE DAY IN THE FALL OF 2015, I headed to Yosemite, California and Indian Creek, Utah with a deep-seated need for truth and gigantic rock towers. Instead of grad school, or a stable career, I decided that what I needed most was to set myself up to simply live outside.

This allowed me the much needed time and space to figure out what I wanted most out of life. In the aftermath of the Dawn Wall, the upheaval of the government shut down, and amidst the debris of a myriad of brands co-opting the outdoors as trendy and hip, I started working towards Terra Incognita Media: a feminist response to climbing that publishes essays, art, visual media, and a monthly podcast. While we are only a digital publication right now, our goal is to move into print as soon as funding allows. Because print is not dead. I repeat: not dead.

My travels to Yosemite and Indian Creek proved to be a huge learning experience where I got to know my climbing community on a grittier level. Being on the road made me realize I wanted to participate and contribute to my community more fully.

I returned to Portland, Oregon, woke up on my friend’s couch, and had come to find that my identity as a climber allowed me to interact with people from various backgrounds and places that starkly contrast the consumer-driven culture of this American life.

Terra Incognita, which means "unknown land," refers to how climbing is a constant engagement with the unknown. The mental and physical challenges that I have experienced while on the rock inspired me to create an equally challenging media outlet. Terra Incognita Media raises tough questions about our existence on this planet, catapults difficult conversations about the unknown, and stimulates action towards the benefit of our environment.

We're breaking barriers, pushing the envelope, and exploring the unknown. Terra Incognita Media publishes writers, artists, and photographers who believe in our ethics and standards. We stand behind those who revel in fighting consumerism, the patriarchy, and societal "norms," because our climbing world is not exempt from these obstacles and they must be addressed. Climbing attracts creatives and engineers alike, so it is the perfect sub-culture to create positive social change.

Climbing deserves better media, less achievement-based ideology, and more proactive and compassionate discussion surrounding climbing as a lifestyle. Climbers have the potential to do great good for for their community, and for the lands in which they get out and get lost.

Throughout my climbing travels I saw that small happenings can lead to big changes, and that internal evolution can lead to outer revolution. So, I set forward without any savings, or a business plan - just faith that focus and determination would be my guide.

In the following cold and rainy winter months in Portland, I carried my "office" in my backpack, and my subscribers in my notebook.

This world is in dire need of truth, conviction, and genuine, hard work. These things are what climbing is all about, and what Terra Incognita Media is all about. It is easy to wake up early and stay up late when working towards something that gives me joy in ways that no amount of money ever could.

Our philosophy promotes connection. Terra Incognita Media is a source of inspiration for staying fiercely passionate about that which you love and believe in. We advocate shared experiences, thoughts, wisdom, and stories. Terra Incognita Media's mission is to motivate climbers to  think and act in ways that benefit the environment and promote community.

Seven months later, after a lot of positive feedback and progress, this vision is slowly, but surely turning into a reality. Now Terra Incognita Media needs the community's help. 

There has been a lot of work behind the scenes from our team.
I have been meeting with people in the industry, taking business classes, spreading the word through endless talking, talking, and more talking (I am quite good at this), as well as collaborating with brilliant creatives.

(Majka Burhardt: Professional Climber, Environmental Activist and Social Entrepreneur - Photo by Celin Serbo)

(Who is this guy? Photo by Yetta Stein)

(With Timmy O'Neill - Photo by Earl Bates)

(Libby Sauter: professional climber and heart surgeon)

Slowly, we are building an empire that will give back to the artists and environmental activists in the local, Portland climbing community. As we grow, it is our fierce intent to also serve the greater, nationwide climbing community.

(Photo by: Travis Barron)

Terra Incognita Media plans to start locally because there is a ripple effect that occurs when you support those around you first.

We have a goal to raise $3,000 in order to cover costs for getting off the ground. This amount will take care of the website, marketing and promotional materials (flyers, stickers, t-shirts), and help us prepare for our promotion party at Basecamp Brewing in Portland, Oregon happening this September 17th! We hope you can make it!

Any amount is deeply appreciated from the bottom of our hearts.

Please visit our current site to get to know our team better and read essays from our amazing contributors. You can also give the first episode of the podcast a listen! The new site is in the works and your contribution helps with the process! We are excited to show you our progress and have you along on this journey with us! Terra Incognita Media

With endless love and gratitude,


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"These thoughts continue, now living in Portland, as I tie into my harness at the gym and at the check out line at the grocery store. It’s there when I am standing on top of Mt. Hood as I prepare to launch myself down a mountain at full speed. I think about how great of a privilege it is that I am able to risk my life in this way. I am always asking myself what is my role and my contribution to this system of power that gives certain people privileges, access, ease, while putting up barriers and lack of options for others?"

"Feminism as a Guide": read the latest content up on the site now. We published the speech that I delivered at the Terra Incognita prototype issue launch party that happened this past February 2nd at The Mountain Shop in Portland, Oregon. Link at the bottom of this message. Check out our Instagram (@terraincognitamedia) to watch a clip of the speech.

Thank you to all who made this special evening full of live music, good friends, delicious beer and Kombucha, and inspiring speakers.

The speakers included a discussion of adventuring and getting after it without holding yourself back by Candi Cook, a presentation by Jorge Guzman about his new non-profit Vive NW, which bridges the gap in diversity in the outdoors by taking marginalized youth into the outdoors, and a presentation by Andy Stone, a local environmental activist and self-proclaimed proud feminist. Andy presented information about how feminism is linked to environmentalism, and how degradation of the environment is tied to the devaluation of women and minorities. He uses dams in SE Asia and in the Pacific Northwest as metaphors to draw serious and scary conclusions. We are hopeful in fighting these daunting forces, however, because Terra Incognita is gaining speed and momentum!

Join Terra Incognita and @alpenglowcollective.co next Monday February 27th for a happy hour conversation about feminism and the outdoors at Basecamp Brewing in Portland, Oregon from 6pm-9pm ish!

More soon! Thank you all for the support! Keep spreading the word. We will have printed prototype issues for sale at the Basecamp event for $10 and Erin will also be hitting the road in March where she will be selling them out of her trunk :) You will first find her in Bishop, California working on her computer at Black Sheep Coffee Shop or working on the boulders underneath the Sierras.

Stay strong and do radical work friends. Thank you for being radical in your support. Every little, tiny, teensy bit counts. Even a small word. Even a smile. Even a hug. Even a high-five. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, and all of us behind the scenes of Terra.

Prototype issues!
Saying hello to the community
A glimpse of the night (Diana Bianco!)
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Last March 2016 I self-published my essay "I'm Not Your Babe, Bro" on my blog that started this whole project (terraincognitaseries.squarespace.com). It created such a buzz that the entire gym talked about it for the entirety of a week, or more. It created such a wave of riot that my boss and I had a meeting about it. Our conversation was meaningful. It could possibly be argued that this was the catalyst that really pushed this endeavor forward.

Many people disagree with the essay. They disagree with the approach. Many people thought I was completely in the wrong and that I looked too closely, too sensitively, and too nit-pickily. I can understand where they are coming from, of course. It would be short-sighted for me to think that everything I write is the Truth with a capital “T.” It would be wrong for me not to encourage this kind of dissent. In fact, I would not have it any other way because it is in these fierce conversations (and by fierce I mean brave, respectful and honest), that we get closer to the truth.

Last week, Moja Gear published “I’m Not Your Babe, Bro” and a similar explosion occurred, but this time it was on their Facebook wall, instead of mine, and as I am in Missouri visiting family for Thanksgiving I have not had the joy of having these conversations in person. I have observed several things about in-person communication, as well as online communication over the years. There is the bullying that happens online, the “call-out” culture that happens, and I see a lot of “knee jerk” reactions happening.

The one thing that I encourage is argument. I encourage dissent and disagreement. However, it becomes toxic when we start yelling at each other and refuse to genuinely respect each other. It has happened on the Facebook page of Moja Gear’s site in this slew of comments made about my essay. People are calling each other idiots, and some have made sweeping judgments about my character, assuming that I am an asshole (my favorite comment), assuming that I hate men and have low self-esteem, assuming that I spewed out the essay in an emotional, period-induced outburst courtesy of my timely once-a-month rage - actually this was my favorite comment, “Bae sounds like she was on her period when she ranted and wrote this.”

I am writing this in an effort to encourage all of us to have these difficult conversations with humility, with respect, and complete regard for all of our experiences and opinions. I very much appreciate all of the comments made about the essay. It catapults our cause further. We are all in this together. We all want good things to happen in the world. So, we need to start first with improving the way we communicate with each other, especially when we disagree. Everyone disagrees sometimes. Even feminists among feminists disagree with each other. And I think that this is a beautiful thing.

I am no patron-saint feminist, and have never claimed to be. But I am striving to provide this world with a different lens, an ecofeminist lens. The essays to come will reflect this endeavor. This is just the beginning. Though we reached our $3,000 goal on this site, I really underestimated the amount of money this is going to cost.

No one started out making millions of copies of issues in full, glossy color though. My favorite publications started out as hand-stapled pamphlets. The internet makes it easier to self-publish these days, but we are striving to print a physical, hold-it-in-your-hands product. This is our attempted manifestation of our ecofeminist interpretation. Ecofeminism encourages looking at the world as intertwined and interconnected. The way we have historically treated, and presently treat, nature is the same way we have historically treated, and presently treat, marginalized populations. We are listening to, and promoting an indigenous world view, one where we step through life with humility and compassion.

My mentor, a zen monk, a poet, a professor, a curmudgeon, opinionated, frank Bostonian, reminded me recently:

Two weeks ago in zendo you heard me say what I've said many times before. It's my variation of the first Bodhisattva vow: Infinite are all beings, I vow to save them from myself. It means Looking OUT! instead of always looking inside at your own mess of feelings and ideas. Buddhism teaches: True self has no self. Nice words. What do they mean? If you want to find some levity, some joy in the midst of the struggle, you need to let go of this strong attachment to yourself. Start local: with yourself. Change yourself before you embark on changing the world. And then, join the many other people who for decades have been doing the work before you were even born. We're the radicals "who live in the shadows" and have not surrendered our "integrity, creativity, independence" and ultimately our "souls."

There is a lot of work to be done in the shadows and we must always honor those who came before us.

In regards to the eruption of anger and angst that came from the essay, there must be a balance: of sticking to personal convictions as well as being a humble listener. Vowing to save all beings from ourselves takes practice. I’m working on this too.

It is important to question everything. The essays that are to come from Terra Incognita Media will be a smattering of different experiences that will offer a bit of sanctuary for those who are feeling anxious about the outcome of our dire, environmental and political situation. Especially in this era where our politics are click-bait entertainment and our news is a spectacle. Pop culture, media, and real life have for decades told everyone who isn’t a straight, white, cisgendered man that the harm perpetrated upon them isn’t “real” harm, that it doesn't matter. Our job at Terra Incognita Media is to hold our world accountable. To call out mainstream thinking when it takes a complicated issue and offers a dangerously simplified narrative. Unflinching intersectional feminist analysis is what we strive for.

The New York Times came out with a poll that found that feminism is especially popular among young women, with 63 percent of women aged 18-34 identifying as feminist. This is encouraging. Here at Terra Incognita Media we strive to cultivate a feminist community. Diverse feminist perspectives. Cultural and environmental analysis.

We stand for those who are ready to approach life through an intersectional, ecofeminist lens. If you are ready to immerse yourself in difficult conversations, in questioning those nitpicky things, we welcome you. We want to hear from you. We are here to serve you.

Enjoy these photos of the original advertising for Terra Incognita Media. It didn't go over too well, but a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do...
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We have surpassed our goal! Thank you all so, deeply much for the continued support. Your words of encouragement are responsible for the follow through of this project. It could not continue without any of you. This whole thing at first felt completely daunting and overwhelming, and crazy. Now, this feels a little more doable, a little less scary - though it is still daunting. With all of the support it feels like there is even more pressure. We are going to do our ultimate best to deliver a first issue that we hope lives up to the expectations. Our goal from the beginning has been to provide our community with more depth, alternative thinking, and to instigate conversations that matter; to inspire everyone to find their own ways down a meaningful path of making a positive difference. Whether it's volunteering your time to a trail work day, making friends with someone who is knew to climbing and showing them "the ropes," remaining patient and open when having difficult conversations, or buying sustainable products, we appreciate calling you a member of our Terra community... There are a lot of publications out there and information-overload on the internet. We are grateful for the opportunity to publish content that promotes an ecofeminist lens into how to understand our human impact on the environment, as well as a vehicle for improving social connections. Endless gratitude. Thank you.
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We are having a climbing community party this Saturday, September 17th from 6-10pm at Redpoint Climbers' Supply outside of Smith Rock State Park! Please come if you can! It will be a blast with beer, pizza, free swag, and inspiring speakers! Come check out Lizzy Dalton's amazing art on display as well!!
Byron wants pizza and so do you!
Yosemite Valley, Lizzy Dalton Art
We heard Timmy O'Neill will be there!
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$3,610 of $10,000 goal

Raised by 68 people in 20 months
Created June 5, 2016
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7 months ago
11 months ago
14 months ago
Liz Thomas
14 months ago

Thank you for keeping this conversation going and for supporting women in the outdoors!

14 months ago
Rhiannon Williams
15 months ago

Hi Erin! You inspire me to have the uncomfortable and difficult conversations :)

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