Black History Month: Sharing Inspiration

Brooklyn Bell found herself in Bellingham, Washington at the age of 10 after having grown up in Seattle, Washington. The change of scenery changed her routines and she began to wander the trails that connected her to forests from her backyard. Trail running and hiking introduced her to new friends and new places.

When a friend offered her an old mountain bike, she accepted the offer and hit the trails, this time on two wheels. As an African American kid in a largely white community, Bell struggled with the lack of people who looked like her as she sought out role models. Rather than give up, Bell got creative. Armed with drawing skills, colored pencils, and paper, Bell created her own character that looked a little more like her and named her Ruby J.

Ruby J. could do all of the things she wanted to do. Ruby was a freeride mountain biker, big mountain skier, and adventurer. She was confident and daring on her bike and on skis.

In creating her, Brooklyn Bell slowly began becoming Ruby J.

Today, Bell is not only an enduro racer, but also a founding member of The Kona Supremes Ambassador Program, which endeavors to empower women to learn how to mountain bike. Her experience breaking boundaries has led her to become a strong advocate for women and people of color in outdoor sports.

Bell is also the star of the Patagonia-produced film, Becoming Ruby, which was screened at this year’s Wild & Scenic Film Festival. The short film introduces viewers to Bell as she tells her story, and includes spectacular footage of her winding through the lush forests of Bellingham on her mountain bike as well as animated images of Ruby J.

We want to celebrate young pioneers like Bell who, by Becoming Ruby, inspire more diverse audiences to develop relationships of respect and care for the outdoors and, in doing so, enrich the communities they enter with new perspectives and ideas.

See Becoming Ruby on February 26th at the Wild & Scenic Film Festival Virtual On Tour event hosted by Friends of the Kaw in Laurence, KS.

Learn more about Brooklyn Bell and Ruby J. and hear her read one of her poems, in this Outside Online article

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