The mission of WeGotNext, Seedlip's 1% for the Planet partner, is brought to life by their incredible ambassadors & their projects. Seedlip connected with WeGotNext & their ambassadors to explore the infinite definitions of what nature is & how it connects us all through sharing these individual experiences- their roots.
For this installment of this series, we caught up with Gabriel Patterson, researcher, scientist, rock climber and WeGotNext ambassador.
I. How do you define “nature” and how do you connect to it consistently in your day-to-day?
I suppose nature is defined as a green space, however small or large – from a park to a national forest. Expectedly, ever since I moved to Brooklyn, NY a few months ago, connecting to nature in my day-to-day life looks very different than previously in my life. I grew up in New Mexico, attended college in Colorado, and completed my doctorate in California. What’s this Southwest/West Coast kid doing in The Big Apple then?! Living in the big city on the east coast has opened my eyes to the challenges and sacrifices that city people face regarding access to nature. My experience of nature now is observing the movement and diversity of the hundreds of people I encounter on the subway and in the street during my commute. Is nature defined as ‘wild’ or a certain density of vegetation? Or is it simply the site of trees and animals other than humans? Does human activity defy the meaning of nature? Or are the movement and sonder of people in a populated city an alternative interpretation of nature?
II. How does your project with WeGotNext grow from your roots?
My earliest experiences in nature and the outdoors were livestock ranching. The outdoor industry has painted ‘nature’ and ‘outdoor recreation’ to fit an elite lifestyle of expensive activities to appeal to a certain demographic. However, all over the world people are connecting and forging relationships with nature as its stewards without the need for $900 alpine ski boots, or $200 climbing shoes, and decked out head-to-toe in a ridiculously matching REI polyester hiking uniform with poles to appear more connected to nature. The outdoor industry has misrepresented the meaning of nature to appeal to an elite audience.
III. You’re currently developing biobased hemostatic products for wound healing. Absolutely incredible work. Tell us more about this process and how your roots have supported you with this growth.
The truth is my passion lies at the of nexus of sustainable material innovations, environmental stewardship, and equitable outdoor adventure. Outdoor adventure and environmental stewardship define my upbringing in the more rural areas outside of Santa Fe, New Mexico, involving ranching, skiing, outdoor ice hockey games, and more. Those roots eventually cross-linked with my academic interests in the physical sciences, which influenced my decisions to pursue a PhD in agricultural and environmental chemistry, and evolved into a career in research and development of sustainable biomaterials. My professional interests as a career scientist are the mycelium that intersect my roots.
IV. What is one action we can each take today that supports the mission of WeGotNext?
Take time to research and educate yourself on non-white, non-binary, and non-able-bodied people accomplishing great feats in the outdoors. Or purely take time to recognize that those people are out there doing what they love outdoors. Take time to recognize when you’re taking up too much space.
V. What advice do you have to inspire others to connect to their roots?
We all want to make an impact or contribute to society in a meaningful way. I believe that the best way to do it is by connecting to your roots. Do something that really speaks to your being and where you come from, or how you grew up, or what you're passionate about at the core. Lead from your roots and you will have an incredible impact.
VI. If you could invite 6 individuals to a dinner party you’re hosting, who would they be and why? What Seedlip cocktail are you serving?
The number one person at the table is the one who overflows my heart with joy, happiness, optimism, laughter, and excitement – Emma. She is my person – the one I’ve been patiently waiting for all these years. The other 5 would be close friends and/or family. We’ll be having Seedlip with ginger beer – a Seedlip Mule.
Watch Gabriel's 'My Roots' story.