Monumental Reckoning

Hey folks, Peter here from Peak Design.

Today is June 19th, 2022. Juneteenth. What is now a national holiday was not so long ago an unknown day of celebration to me, and to many other Americans—a day that helps us remember and learn about our past in the hopes that it’ll help us all make a better future.

In the two years since George Floyd’s murder, I would like to think that the United States has taken significant steps in the right direction to constructively talk about race. At Peak, we are particularly aware of the role private companies can (and should) take in that work. Businesses have to be part of the solution in creating a sector that is more diverse, equitable, and inclusive. Peak has certainly made strong strides in becoming a more just and socially responsible company, and in acknowledging the path laid out ahead of us to do even better.

Our vocal support of environmental and social responsibility has led to our reputation of being a bunch of “tree-hugging, latte-sipping snowflakes,” as one of our customers colorfully called us a few years ago (he was also extremely complimentary of our products, fwiw). That’s a bit of an unfair characterization, though, and one that I’d like to clear up.

It is true that this company has often signaled virtues that are more left-leaning. I fully cop to that. But I would like those who support Peak to know that this is not from a unilateral stance deaf to opposing arguments. We have a ferocious spirit of respectful debate at Peak Design, and that extends to our discussion of social issues.

My personal opinion is that the greatest threat to our society is not climate change…it’s division. It’s polarization. It is being closed off to those whose opinions are different from your own. Too many people assume that those with different opinions are either crazy, or stupid. When you see someone as crazy or stupid, it is very easy to foment hate. Hate is the emotion that fuels the worst of what humanity can be.

The fact is, name an issue…and the folks on the other side, I can assure you, are neither crazy nor stupid. Guns. Abortion. Vaccines. Wars. I know where I come down on all of these issues, and it probably looks like I’m a card-carrying lefty. But while I come down on one side of these issues, I’d like to think I do the work required to truly empathize with those who come down on the other side. I seek out opinions different than my own from friends, colleagues, and even strangers. It is a remarkably liberating feeling, but it is hard-earned through tough conversations. I think that if more people earnestly tried it though, we might have a happier world.

I’m just one person with one set of values at Peak. I don’t speak for everyone. You’ll find a wide range of opinions in our ranks. And while our stances might appear to be one-sided, it’s important to me that we show respect for the variety of upbringings, cultures, and values that exist in this world.

On this day, Juneteenth, I encourage you to listen to…really listen to…and put yourself in the shoes of those who don’t have the same beliefs as you. I also encourage you to keep learning, like this holiday has helped me do.

Another recent learning opportunity for me came from a temporary sculpture in San Francisco called Monumental Reckoning. It is a reminder of, and commentary on, the roots of slavery so intertwined with our country’s history. This piece of art communicated a positive message about how we must all put in the work to heal the wounds of our past for groups that have been enslaved, marginalized, and held down by the systems of the world.

I enjoyed learning the story behind this monument, and would love to share it with you here, in our Field Notes Journal.

The Peak team and I are incredibly grateful for the customer feedback and encouragement we get from our community. Thank you for supporting the work we do.

Be well,

PETER DERING
PEAK DESIGN FOUNDER & CEO


Photo of Monumental Reckoning: This is the purpose of Monumental Reckoning, a sculpture in Golden Gate park that was unveiled on Juneteenth, 2021. The sculpture is the work of San Francisco artist Dana King, and consists of 350 bronze figures—symbolizing the enslaved Africans aboard the San Juan Bautista—encircling an ornate 19th century monument of Francis Scott Key, a historical figure best known for writing the American National Anthem. See/Read more here.

Monday Morning

The plan is obvious. Earth will become more and more beautiful until I can’t stand it. Then I will vanish.

—  D. Nurkse, from his poem ‘A Clearing on Ruth Island’, published in Sangam House, March 2022


Notes:

  • Photo: DK @ Cove Island Park @ Daybreak. 5:03 am. 59° F. May 30, 2022.  See more photos from today’s glorious morning here.
  • Poem Source: indeskidgepoetry
  • And a final thought…the biggest thought fluttering around (more like cutting) —  today being Memorial Day, a day we remember and honor those who sacrificed everything for our freedoms – – those Patriots who vanished before they were able to see another moment of our Earth’s beauty.  I am grateful for them and honor them today. And perhaps there is a bigger, grander plan, for the wars, for the children slaughtered at elementary schools, for the incomprehensible racist killings at our neighborhood grocery stores – – because I can’t see any plan that includes killing fields in schools and grocery stores.  Thomas Friedman: “But with every passing day, every mass shooting, every racist dog whistle, every defund-the-police initiative, every nation-sundering Supreme Court ruling, every speaker run off a campus, every bogus claim of election fraud, I wonder if he can bring us back together. I wonder if it’s too late. I fear that we’re going to break something very valuable very soon. And once we break it, it will be gone — and we may never be able to get it back…We are staring into that abyss right now.”

Walking. In White.

3:35 a.m. Restless. Lousy night’s sleep. (Again.) Co-pilot is fast asleep next to me. She dreams of bunny rabbits and puppies. I’m being chased by failure and mortality. Any wonder why you don’t sleep?

Yesterday morning: “Are you getting tired of the same walk?” Translated, she’s getting tired of flipping through the same shots, the same landscapes, morning after morning. “No,” was my monosyllabic response, short, curt, clipped, after 3x years of marriage (I didn’t want to do the math), there was no need for more words.

4:28 a.m. Gear check. Backpack. Camera. Battery. Memory Card. iPhone. Earbuds. Audible Book re: Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking.  I adhere the strap to my right wrist, synch it up, and clip it to camera, listening for the satisfying snap. Secure.

4:33 a.m. I’m out the door.

Day 5x something, just shy of two months. Not a single day missed.  Same route. Near the same time. A five mile walk.  Walmsley to Linden to Hollow Tree Ridge Road to Hillside to Anthony to Brookside to Post to Weed Avenue to Cove Island Park. And back again.

Scene 1.  I’m 1/4 mile out on Hollow Tree Ridge Road and a patrol car stops one street up. Rare to see any traffic this time of the morning. He pauses under the street lamp, looking in my direction. He sees: Man, 6′ 1″, black long sleeved shirt. Black pants. Carrying something black in his right hand. Backpack on his back. Walking briskly. [Read more…]

Not just another Wednesday…


George Floyd by Adam Berry / Stringer

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