As OWAA celebrates its 90th birthday in 2017, we’re kicking off “Member Spotlight Monday,” a new weekly feature that celebrates our present—the gift of our talented current members and their ongoing excellence in outdoor communications. Today, we introduce Sinjin Eberle:
- Where were you born?
Panorama City, California
- Where do you call home now?
- What’s your nickname?
Sinjin (I can’t remember my given first name ;-)
- What’s your favorite outdoor activity?
- What is your profession/connection with outdoors communication?
As the American Rivers’ Communications Director in the Rocky Mountain West, I am responsible for designing, developing, and publishing core conservation communications about the challenges (and successes!) rivers and the outdoors in general face across the country. I also lead our Grand Canyon campaign (which has a wide array of communications elements) as well as Executive Produce all our American Rivers films across the country. Lastly, as a life-long outdoor adventurer, I have been working on the side to improve my writing, photography, and film-making chops to better express and document my experiences in the outdoors. I frequently pursue off-the-wall adventures, either solo or with others, in remote and sometimes forgotten areas of the country, usually in the southwest. While these places are less visited than others, the stories are rich, the landscapes are amazing, and the history of place is always compelling.
- Why did you choose to become an outdoor communicator?
Maybe as a way to express how much I love and respect the amazing landscapes of this country, and leverage my energy and skills to inspire generations around mine to get out and enjoy and protect them from being overrun. I have a deep respect for these landscapes, and the millennia of people who have been here before us, and I am troubled by the lack of foresight and care people of our time are extending to these places. Through communications (whether written, photographic, or video) we have a platform to tell these stories and show these places that you just can’t experience from the TV.
- What are you most proud of in your career thus far?
Building and leading American Rivers efforts in the Grand Canyon. In 2015 we listed the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon as America’s Most Endangered River, and shortly thereafter a proposal to pump more groundwater on the south rim was soundly stopped, a proposal to build a tram on the east rim of the canyon was seriously delayed, and the uranium issue has been elevated to a more prominent level across the country. Our efforts, in partnership with other local organizations, reminded people across the country that the Grand Canyon is one of our most iconic and recognized National Parks. It is also a harbinger for what happens in other National Parks as well – is this how we want to treat our most heralded landscapes? I don’t think so.
- What three words would your friends use to describe you?
Energetic, Relentless, Committed.
- What is the best piece of advice you have received as an outdoor communicator?
“Don’t just tell people what to think, paint the scene so that they feel what you are trying to get across to them.” We all have the ability to report the news, tell the audience what is going on, give them the facts. But what we really need to do is connect with people emotionally, and most importantly, meet them where they are. We naturally communicate on a level that we are comfortable with, where we are on a subject or with words that connect with people like us. But when we do that, we are talking to only the small sliver of people who are like us. We must challenge ourselves to think about different ways to describe subjects that speak to a wider audience. This may mean telling the same story in three different ways or using different characters or viewpoints – this is our challenge if we want to broaden our audiences.
- When you head for the Great Outdoors, what is the one thing you do not leave home without?
Unfortunately, my iPhone. After nearly a decade searching for and rescuing lost and injured people in Albuquerque Mountain Rescue, I never want to be without some form of communications if something goes wrong. And now, with the improvements in coverage, cameras, and GPS capabilities, it continues to whittle down the number of other gadgets I have to deal with. I can take notes or record voice memos in the field, snap solid photos, navigate, and communicate if necessary (yes, as long as the battery lasts and I don’t drop it in the river)
- What would you do if you won the lottery?
(Depending on the after-tax amount, of course) I would take a small portion for play money, donate probably 20% to charitable causes, and invest the rest for long term, stable growth.
- Who do you most admire in your life and why?
I can’t really pin down a most admired individual, since so many people have inspired, guided, and supported me. But I can easily identify a kind of person that I admire most – people who volunteer their time and give back to the community (whatever that community may be). I always appreciate people who put themselves aside, even just a little bit, to volunteer to help others or protect a place. We get so consumed with so many things that don’t really have a real impact on our lives, that reaching beyond ourselves can make a huge difference. People who go beyond their comfort zones and volunteer their time and resources to others get a big high-five from me!
- What was the last movie you saw?
The new Jason Bourne film – I am a sucker for a good action-explosion-conspiracy-outlandish adventure film. (The new one is not nearly as good as the original three, but what can you do?)
- What are your top three favorite books?
Desert Solitaire (Ed Abbey), The Painter (Peter Heller), and The Emerald Mile (Kevin Fedarko)
- Can you juggle?
Yup. I juggled a ton in college.
- What is your favorite dessert?
Banana Cream Pie – the ultimate in unhealthy decadence.
- If you were a superhero, what would your superpower be?
MazeVision – the ability to see through and navigate the most difficult obstacles to achieve an objective.
- Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Probably doing about this same thing. I think I have a good amount of time left to seriously make a difference and protect these places we all care about. I have such an amazing and supportive leadership that gives me the ultimate long leash to create and develop new ways to protect these places. I have a hard time thinking about how I could be more effective than this. In many ways, this really is my dream job.
- What is your favorite inspirational quote?
“Truth and beauty can still win battles. We need more art, more passion, more wit in defense of the Earth.” –David Brower.
- What do you like best about OWAA?
How supportive and willing the members of the organization are to bringing new people into the fold and being inclusive into the group. I have perceived a deep pride in what everyone is doing, and the honest desire to expand and include more people into OWAA.
We thank Sinjin for not only his answers, but also for being critical part of “The Voice of the Outdoors!”
If you are an OWAA member and wish to be featured in a future Member Spotlight Monday, send your answers to the above questions and a photograph of yourself enjoying the outdoors (in JPG format sized for the web) to Colleen Miniuk-Sperry at email@example.com.