Not one to back down, Max hiked the 550-mile Washington section of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and completed 4 Naked and Afraid TV show challenges. Based in Seattle, one of his parents is an artist from the Ivory Coast and the other a fifth-generation Seattle native.
When he was 8 years old, his mother brought his family camping and hiking around the PNW Cascades, Olympics, and British Columbia. At 24, he bought his first camera to document his adventures throughout the Cascades and beyond.
Max is currently working as an instructor with the Seattle-based nonprofit the Service Board (tSB) for their summer and winter programs. tSB focuses on creating equity and opportunity in the outdoors for young BIPOC individuals.
A: It’s an eclectic community of outdoor enthusiasts, family members, friends, acquaintances, and stewards of the outdoors. We find pleasure in the simple things like being outside, making, and sharing space with each other.
Q: Why outside? Why do you go?
A: Going outside is really going inwards. We’ve evolved as humans 200,000 years ago. We’ve lived with 4 walls around us for 6,000 years and have had screens for about 60 years. That’s 0.06 of our existence staring at screens. The rest of our evolutionary lives we’ve lived in harmony with our natural world. I go outside to tap back into the part of us that craves fresh air, a simpler life of human and natural connection.
Q: What’s your favorite anecdote or story from your time in the outdoors?
A: After hiking about 75 miles on the Washington section of the PCT my feet were destroyed, because I had chosen boots that were too ridged and snug. After another 25 miles I was using my trekking poles as crutches. The next day I was hiking in a complete fog on some switchbacks. Sitting in the middle of the trail were a pair of size 12 boots! I looked around, yelled to see if anybody was around, waited for a little bit, and decided to slip my insoles into them. They fit like an absolute charm. Trail magic!
Q: Why do you love what you do outside?
A: I love to be outside because the outdoors is a place where I feel complete. I get to share special moments with the people I love and care about while being able to either push myself higher or just enjoy a simple day at the lake, river, beach, or campground.
Q: What do you see as the roadblocks for inclusion outdoors?
A: A couple roadblocks I see in the outdoors is a lack of representation paired with barriers to entry as well as feeling included. You can have all the gear but not feel welcomed.
Q: How can we, as a community, break those barriers down?
A: Making accessibility paramount from reasonably priced equipment to investing in community programs that focus on getting BIPOC individuals in the outdoors. Inspire, embody, and create inclusion from the way you carry yourself to the programs you invest in.
Q: What cause or organization do you support?
A: I am currently working with the Service Board (tSB), a nonprofit based out of Seattle. I'll be an instructor for their summer and winter programs. tSB focuses on creating equity and opportunity in the outdoors (specifically around snowboarding) for young underserved, underrepresented, and underprivileged BIPOC individuals within the greater Seattle area.
Q: What are your goals for tSB in 2021 and beyond?
A: My goals are to inspire and serve as many BIPOC kids within the program, while learning the ins and outs of running a nonprofit geared towards outdoor recreation.
Q: Why the Coleman® Collective?
A: Because Coleman is often the first taste of outdoor gear that most people get their hands on. I’m big on access, and the accessibility of Coleman is the forefront of being inclusive in the outdoors. As well as being a person of color, I believe I can use Coleman as a catalyst to inspire and advocate for more inclusion in our outdoor spaces.
I’m also excited about using this opportunity and my platform to help give back and be a positive influence and role model in the outdoor industry, especially for diversity, equity, and inclusion as well as social/environmental justice.