Collective Power, Community Impact: How We’re Creating a Force for Change

Dani Reyes-Acosta
Jan 29, 2018 · 5 min read

Finding the Hose to Fill the Talent Pool

That Facebook post I had put up asking for freelance help didn’t yield anything. This was frustrating, but it wouldn’t be the first time I came back empty-handed after scouring my personal network for talent to bring onto the project I was leading.

My efforts only a month ago on this project for a different role — a UI designer — had yielded a good contact, but nothing more; his dual roles as a full-time, in-house employee and avid weekend warrior kept him incredibly busy, and my potential offer of a side hustle didn’t appeal to this non-aspiring freelancer. After all, my offer to join a project couldn’t possibly compare to his cushy job and weekends spent slaying big ski lines in the Pacific Northwest…. right?

Back to square one: keep doing the work myself, or hire someone else? My deadline was fast approaching, and the downtime just to find (not to mention interview and hire) another creative consultant cut into the time someone else could be using to get the work done.

In this instance, the agency with which I was working happened to be able to hire a freelancer they’d previously used — so the problem was temporarily solved. Yet despite my immediate problem’s resolution, I realized that this repeat situation brought to light a more serious existential crisis: where were all the millenials? The rise of the gig economy means it should have been easy to find potential freelancers to bring on board, and the growing popularity of becoming a digital nomad should have also compounded the ease with which I should have been able to find members to add to my creative team. Hadn’t all the social chatter indicated that this is what everyone my age kept talking about (hello…#vanlife #digitalnomad)?

(Note that at this point in time, I’d been freelancing on my own as a content strategist, digital strategist, copywriter, creative director, and plumber — just joking, I wasn’t a plumber — for about 2 years in my own post-Nike remote work world. This role as an “in-house” Content Director meant I managed a team of my own, plus needed to occasionally hire freelancers).

I was frustrated, though. Would I have to repeat this process every few months when I needed to hire someone new? Whether someone would be available to take on the random freelancing gig further complicated things.

Perhaps it was time to get real about aligning my personal beliefs and values with my professional path — because I knew that if I could come up with a compelling proposition, friends, partners, and even clients would back it.

Step 1: Define the Community

One of the keys to freelancer success? Maintaining and building relationships. I thought I’d been good at that, but the reality check that my peers and mentors might only know me through a pre-Nike, Nike, or Gap Year lens meant that I’d have to better communicate what it is exactly that I was doing (professionally) if I wanted to get people on board. I’d need to reconnect with old friends in a new context. I’d need to cast off my dated identity as being either a full-time employee or an outdoor adventurer but nothing in-between. In essence, I’d need to rebuild my own personal community.

With the core idea that community provides a safe, supportive space to pursue interests, I started to think in more cross-sectional terms. Perhaps communities didn’t need to be siloed groups of outdoor, volunteering, or creative people — after all, human beings are complex and multi-faceted in their interests. Why wasn’t I tapping into that? And shouldn’t I also be considering how other aspects of my own personal identity tied into the community construct I had in mind?

So I got to thinking: what defines community for me? Or, to flip the question on its head: how have experiences inspired by the outdoors and by human connection defined me?

We were all friends, teachers, and students on a yoga retreat with I am Flower of Life in Huatulco, Mexico.

Step 2: Step into the Community

It was a difficult, long-running process to break down and define my identity. I’m not just a marketer, a freelancer, an athlete, or a traveler. I’m also a creative, a bilingual female, a multiracial American (Mexican, Pacific Islander, Chinese, and Spanish) and an adventurer in life. I’m a surfer, a yogi, a climber, a snowboarder, a do-it-your-selfer, an aspiring homesteader, and an entrepreneur. Considering all these aspects of my identity, it makes sense that I’m inspired to action by issues surrounding conservation, diversity, inclusion, disability rights, and self-actualization.

At the end of the day, I’m just a person — but I’m a person who cares about making the world a more equitable, inclusive, sustainable place where human connection, communication, and transparency inspire us all to be better.

Dani representing Nomad Creativa (and demonstrating that part-time nomads can also be well-laundered) at the Access Fund’s 2017 Climber Advocate Summit in Oakland, CA.

Step 3: Support the Community

As you might guess, I am not alone in this desire. From the early days of this journey exploring Montana with the badass women of the Lost Girls to a single inspiring conversation with the talented creative/outdoorsman Tom Winter to participation in the Access Fund’s annual Climber Advocate Summit (where my gears kicked into overdrive after hearing Len Necefer of Natives Outdoors speak), I’m aware that are a great many opportunities, from a variety of perspectives, to get involved in efforts to build up social equity.

The biggest question, then, was how to do it? This, my friends, is that point in which personal values and community suddenly came sharply into focus as overlapping with my professional career. Through other professional pursuits, I’d tried this before, but the goal had never been quite as clear. The partnerships maybe weren’t quite there. And the fear of failure, the aversion to risk, the shunning of perhaps that whole and complete self-identification — definitely too prominent for me to consider embracing what’s become my path.

This time around? I’m putting the full weight of everything I have into this little company I’ve been bootstrapping for the last year or so….and with the support of many brilliant minds, Nomad Creativa will become a force leading brand strategy for organizations driven by audacity.

Thank you for being a part of my journey and supporting the idea of building up communities to create lasting social change. 2018 is going to be a damn good year.

Nomad Creativa is a Colorado-based woman-owned brand strategy collective whose sole goal is to scale their clients’ social impact.

To join the movement, join the conversation.

Dani Reyes-Acosta

Written by

I help frame up the future with brand strategy that makes next-gen consumer connections @nomadcreativa http://danireyesacosta.com

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