#3 - Chad Brown - Founder, Love is King
Chad Brown is a decorated US Navy veteran who served in Desert Storm/Shield Gulf War and Operation Restore Hope, Somalia. He has transformed his struggles with PTSD into accomplishments as a photographer, creative director, adventurer and conservationist. He founded Soul River, a non-profit organization bringing inner-city youth and military veterans together in the wilderness where they learn to become leaders in conservation and their communities. His new venture, Love is King, is committed to providing equal opportunity to ensure equitable and safe access to the outdoors for children, families, and communities of people of color as a way to improve the physical, mental and spiritual health.
Other topics discussed:
Produced: Tyler White
Edited: Patrick Troll
Music: Whiskey Class
Mark Titus 0:00
Welcome to save what you love. I'm Mark Titus. Today, I get the chance to hang out with Chad Brown. This is a guy that I found out through my fishing circles. He is a sport fisherman extraordinaire. He's a guide. More importantly, he is a person that is showing us the way forward on how to heal ourselves in the wild. And how does he know this? Because he's done it himself. Chad has been to the very bottom where a human being can go. And now he's rising to the top by becoming a mentor to young people, to BIPOC folks that don't ordinarily get into the outdoors to experience the wild, and to folks that are underrepresented. So excited to bring Chad Brown to you today. Enjoy the episode.
Whiskey Class 1:03
Music: "How do you save what you love?"
Mark Titus 1:23
Chad Brown, welcome to Save What You Love. First off, I want to just thank you for your service, sir. It is such a privilege to have you on the show. Where are you coming to us from today?
Chad Brown 1:37
I'm coming out of Portland, Oregon right now. Yeah, you know, weather is a little gloomy, we are out of the ice age.
Mark Titus 1:46
You weathered a little bit speaking up, you weathered a little bit of a turbulent storm here in the last 10 days or so.
Chad Brown 1:54
Yeah, yeah, for sure. Yeah, it was pretty tough. You know, I think it caught a lot of folks off guard. And, you know, I guess, you know, we are we are up here in north and, you know, cold weather, but I think this time to kind of, you know, caught everybody off guard, you know, it's it cut off lights, and, you know, cell phones went out? I mean, it was, it was crazy. You know, we're here, though, yeah,
Mark Titus 2:17
yeah, for all of you. Who don't know, we've been working on this for several days to put this program together to bring to you, Chad was out of internet service for a while. And, you know, we go to every length to make sure that take care of you here at Save What You Love. Yes, sir. So, you know, just wanted to start out for those folks not in the fishing community or not in the activist community or not in the military community? Can you tell us a little bit about your story, and how you came to love the things that means so much to you?
Chad Brown 2:54
Well, well, you know, um, you know, it, when we first come out of school, or step into the big world of college, we graduate, you know, we put that short term list in that long term goal list together, and we're so charged on exactly on what we want to do in life, you know, our parents are straight, and, but we never taken account of how crooked those paths can be, you know, you know, and some of us still walk that path. And some of us, you know, kind of got thrown to the left and thrown to the right a couple times. And we had to figure things out along the way, and where do we fall, you know, fall at the cards fall. And that's where we end up as you know, and I think, you know, with that saying is, you know, went into the military and with this intention on, you know, wanting to go to school, in the art, etc. You know, and, you know, I didn't know what I was going to step into when I got into the fleet, you know, when I graduated boot camp, and got into the fleet into the Navy, you know, I can't say it was the right time or a perfect time. But when I got into the fleet, it was kind of like, right at the time that Desert Storm was happening, the second phase of that, and then Operation Restore Hope Somalia, you know, there was just so much stuff that's happening all over the place, and I was, you know, dropped into many different places to experience, you know, in theater in war, you know, and, you know, I experienced a lot seen a lot, but time in the Navy was like 14, you know, 14 months of, I'm sorry, 14 countries, you know, within a short stint of my time in the Navy, and the longest I stayed in the United States was like, four months. My Navy enlistment basically, you know, and so, but I didn't realize what, what I guess I knew what I was, you know, I guess you could say I got exposed, but I didn't realize how much toll that exposure took me when I got out.
Chad Brown 5:03
And so as I'm moving forward through life and going back to college use my GI Bill, you know, it was slowly but surely, I started seeing these weird things happening with my body and with my mind, and I couldn't really place it. And so the further I move forward in my life, the more of that stuff started to come out, and then, you know, I end up fighting this all the way through graduate school, and then coming out of this, right when I really started to fight when I started to really slowly unravel, and the more unraveled, the more that I really didn't have a hold on to my own mind, you know, mental side, you know, and, and then that's when it's basically I started to realize, through a lot of help, in coming to Portland, Oregon, in at the VA, identifying, realizing that I was fighting with PTSD, you know, and so I got officially diagnosed 50% mentally disabled. And through that whole process, I found myself homeless, found myself in the lines giving blood for $20 for, you know, a pint whatever quart in and, you know, and I was on a routine just and that was my only way of living and trying to get money. And then a person put a rod in my hand and took me to the river and said, this is where you should come fish. And I said, Well, how do you get into it? And that was a day that I was right, really, really drugged up on heavy, heavy medications. And, um, and so when I no fault for that piece of that person showed me what to do. I hooked it on mine, you know, fish, it was a really small Jack salmon. And I was hooting hollering all over the place, you know, I was hooting and hollering and, and yeah, I didn't, I didn't really I didn't even realize I what I even done, honestly, you know, I was just, I was just happy at that moment, I was just really, really happy, you know, and, but what was really important was, I was able to just really key in on the, the air that brushed across my face that I hadn't felt in years, you know, and I was really able to key on the, the colors, the greenery, and that was around me on the riverbank, you know, and just looking at those things, and just everything like came into focus to me. And that was when I felt like I was alive, you know, and it was really weird, because all that time that I've been fighting with my PTSD and popping all these medications, it was like I was I was like a walking zombie, you know, and I was just moving through with no emotion, no feeling and nothing like that. And so, you know, I, you know, I, you know, I end up moving forward.
Chad Brown 7:54
And there was a moment that I did find myself when we were about to take my life, I attempted suicide and ended up into the VA hospital and did a like, almost well, seven days in the suicide watch to prove to the doctor that I wasn't gonna, you know, hurt myself and, and so moving forward, I ended up developing a really good strong community on the water in the outdoors, that community was a balance between hunters and anglers, and conservation folks, it was a whole new community to me. And they, each one of them took me underneath their wing, you know, and they taught me a new way of looking at nature, a new way of, of looking at the fish that I you know, chase all the time, a new way of, you know, understanding the river and how to read the river, it was just, it was just me learning all over again. And these are this new tools that was given to me. And those tools, you know, really became kind of like my medicine, that connection back to nature. And I went back to the VA start talking to the dots about what flyfishing was doing for me in in this new community. And so really, they kind of wrote a prescription basically was to fish more and if you continue to fish more will slowly when you offer your medications, you know and so that was kind of like my deal handshake with the VA and I continued to fish more and more did they wean me off in the morning we all the more I started to feel like I was alive you know and I started to move forward through my life and I got good at fly fishing started teaching started, you know getting stronger and one day I was got to a point in my life where I was just like I'm ready to get back into society. I'm ready to do something ready to make a difference. I want to make a change but I was like this time I you know I? I don't want to really just go anywhere. And find a job I want to do something with with the purpose, you know, fly fishing gave me this purpose. And so I started to think about how could I continue on with this purpose and how nature, you know, supported me. And that was when I was standing on the river waist deep on the Clackamas River. And it's things like, Well, you know, Soul River, and you know, and that was the beginning of my nonprofit, I was like, trying to figure out a name for a new nonprofit and oh, it's like, so rivers, so rivers, bah, bah, bah, bah, you know, I was a rainstorm, my hair, what was the water fishing and I finally came to an essay. Soul river runs deep. And it runs deep within all of us, every one of us has a way to connect to the river. Yeah, and whatever we are going through, it doesn't matter how deep it is, the river has a way of helping us get through our process. And so I ended up with Soul River Runs Deep. And that became my entry back into society. My walk in connecting youth and veterans and bringing them together on the water, basically, to serve one another.
Mark Titus 11:16
I everything you're saying resonates with me and the name of your foundation, your first org was what drew me to you in the first place, I was a well chosen name, I just instantly identified with Soul River Runs Deep. And I of course identify with an emergence back into life after some trauma as a person in recovery. Yeah, and of course, identify with the outdoor, you know, proclivity for fishing and standing in rivers. And we're gonna dive into Soul River and your newest venture Love Is King, in detail and in depth here in just a minute. But I wanted to give a little bit more backdrop of another part of you, which is your artistic integrity and your artistic vision. You've done work with hip hop artists, you've done work on the streets of New York. Now you've done all kinds of really beautiful portraiture and you know, things in urban settings and with style and fashion. In fact, you have a quote here says something special happens at the convergence of outdoor lifestyle and design. You've done research. I thought, you know, the outdoor part, you've done all this really cool work with amazing artists and folks out there in the world and the urban world, why wild? Why portraits and landscapes? How do you bring together your eye for style, love of nature and production into the work that you do? I know, we're gonna dig into the the soul work here in just a little bit, but I'm super curious, just about the aesthetics as an artist that you bring to this.
Chad Brown 13:02
Yeah, you know, I think, well, we can this is a whole long, deep conversation. And I really appreciate you doing your research on that. And I think thank you for tapping into that. It's, it's those are the type of interviews or type of things that actually gets overlooked everybody what to focus on Soul River, you know, and so, but yeah, you know, and I've always kind of kept a little separate, but I guess it's starting to kind of clash, too. But yeah, you know, my, my background as a creative professional is, you know, I did a lot of time in New York, as you said, you know, and I had some really awesome opportunities that I was able to jump at, in take advantage and run with, you know, as a photographer, designer, creative director. And art really speaks to my soul. And it's right up there. And the same level is my new found love, which is fly fishing, you know, that that got me out. But, you know, over a course of time moving forward with my organization, part of that got left behind, you know, and it was me running this organization, and in the spirit of my second passion of fly fishing, in the spirit of healing and connecting people back to the river. But there's also a piece of me that was like left behind as well, which was the how nature fit me creatively in the artistic piece of that and, and so I needed to try to find a way to how to merge my work as an artists creative professional, into what I'm doing. And it took me a while to figure it out, because My camera was getting dusty. You know, and you know, my sketchbook was getting dusty and everything you know, and, and so what I started to see is, instead of me because a lot of my work does come from the, you know, the fashion world and hip hop and runway, and but I'm not in that world, you know. But what I am good at and where my skillset lies is not just pitching as a creative director, conceptually coming up with ideas, but I know how to execute things, and I know how to get behind my lens, and also tell that story. And I felt like the better place for where I'm at right now is to use my talent and my lens, and insert myself into marginalized communities, indigenous communities that doesn't speak for each other, etc, and then be able to use that to elevate that, give it a platform and elevate those voices up.
Chad Brown 16:04
You know, and so, I stepped out of that creative world where, like, the money, the money was once there, but this is all passion driven, you know, and, and, but this is also where my love has a creative professional. And, and this is another way that I could be able to also find healing through being a creative professional through my own lens, and help tell this story from a very creative conceptual place in which I was starting to do with a lot of my exhibition work, you know, with the Arctic, Gwich'in people etc, you know, veterans, but really approaching it in a really unique position, to shine light on something that does not have enough light to be shined on, if that makes sense. You know, I'm already in the mix with youth and veterans, I'm already in the spaces of only our wild lands, on older rivers, and being able to look through my lens with a more of a story approach and being able to capture the smaller things are capture the, the, the impact of what's happening environmentally, and in flip that into a really interesting story, conceptually, that has the ability to transcend itself across the environmental world and back into the urban world. Because my whole goal is really, is to really embrace the folks not really in the conservation world, but in really embrace people in the urban world, you know, I had this idea where it's like, we're gonna practice conservation, we need to start stop talking to one another, or preach to the choir, and start advocating and stepping out and getting into uncomfortable spaces, and bring them into the fold, and share that space where we can create one army, in that conservation space. We need we need a bigger army. And so you know, with my past work was all centered around the US Environmental but the way we position that was more straddling from the environmental world, into urban world communities. And using story how to capture that audience and bring them in inspired him about the needs and what's happening, environmentally what's happening with that indigenous people, etc. And we've been inspired a new story, guess what, we have a future ambassador, you know, a future champion, right? You that champions go, Wow, how can I be more of service? What can I do now? I get it, you know, etc. But we just told this story in in, brought them in. And so now we're creating a stronger army together, you know, and so, yeah, I hope I answered your question.
Mark Titus 19:08
Oh, absolutely. I was talking to David James Duncan. Last week, he's on the current episode of the podcast. And we talked about this idea of convergence and murmuration of birds when birds all turn in flight at the same time. And I feel like our brains are plugged into the same server. I mean, this is something that Yeah, and I know, there's a lot of you listening right now that are having these same sort of ideas about how do I turn my life into something that is driven by purpose that is driven to be of service that what what can I use my talents for? and Chad, that's exactly what I'm hearing from you. It makes all the sense in the world to me and I think, you know, for some time, I've had the same idea that we have a lot of folks in our immediate circles, whether That's the environmental circle or the sports men and women's circle that are speaking our same language, we do have to reach out. Because as you say, when you create an experience for somebody, whether that's through your visual art, or you're taking a kid out through Soul River, which we'll get into, or it's rehabilitating a veteran who's dealing with PTSD, that experience will help that murmuration that convergence with one more person, so it's beautiful. And I think he's explained that eloquently and beautifully. Before we dive into Soul River, we're close to the water here, I want to talk about living with trauma. And you touched on that a minute ago, you're very open about your mental health. And I absolutely admire that and try to emulate that. I've also been public about my own mental health and story of addiction and recovery. And it takes courage, it takes a decision to put yourself out into the world to do that. Right, I have not come close to a suicide attempt. But I have a lot of friends who have and I'm curious, from your perspective, and from one person who's found my bottom, and I know you've found yours. What do you offer for those who are experiencing trauma in their mental health? Both in the immediate and in long term recovery? From your point of view? And from the journey you've been on?
Chad Brown 21:29
Wow. Almost immediate? Well, you know, it's hard for me to throw out a, an offer or, or an idea, an immediate? Because that's such a, it's such a dark place. Yes. And I, honestly, I don't have an answer for that other than, whatever, that's whatever, whatever buoy that's in front of you, that you can hold on to you need to you need to hold on to it. You know, and rather, if you're a believer or non believer, you need to hold on to it, and lean into whoever that person is that's trying to reach out in and help you. You know, and, you know, I think that is such a dark place where it, it becomes this becomes your personal battle, you know, and you're going to have to learn how to fight really, really hard. And yeah, you know, you just gonna have to fight hard and don't give up, don't throw in the towel. You know, and I think, you know, what happened to me, that was, you know, the, the attempted suicide, I think, you know, and I think I know, it played a role with that was, was me having just so much medication inside my system, that it made everything foggy for me, and I couldn't make decisions. So I was under the influence of a lot of heavy medication. You know, and, and so, so it's even harder. And so when I look back at that, and just thinking about where other people may be at right now, veteran or non veteran, that's hard to navigate, it's just hard to really navigate, the best thing I would say, is you just gonna have to fight really, really hard. And, and whatever, that's positive around you at that time, hold on to it as your buoy and and just and hold on to it. Yeah. And keep fighting the long term it I can I can speak more than that is the long term is is the offering is that what you support you can do and what helps is that long term is that once you get when when you punch through that darkness, the key to that long term is aligning your life with the right people, that's going to support you number one. also changing your habits, even down to how you eat. Everything relates to the mental illness of whatever we get we're fighting with, etc. So if you consume a lot of salt drinks and a lot of sweets, that stuff right there is another form of negative toxic medicine stuff. That's that you're injecting back into your system that your body does not need it. Your body needs the right type of food. In a right type of no liquids, etc nourishments and everything for your mind to be able to operate, be able to breathe, be able to function. And so it takes a lot of discipline or what I'm talking about.
Chad Brown 25:13
But that future, you know, moving forward, that long term is not just going through the process in dealing with your therapy, etc, but it takes is going to call you to be more disciplined to clean up your space of where you lay your head at number one, and cleaning up your space, that means taking out the negative taking out the negative that you eat, taken out the negative that's around you, etc. and aligning yourself up with the right positive connecting pieces, changing your negative habits and the positive habits, it's a long term process of changing your, your, your, your, the way you operate through that whole process, in order to maintain your sanity. And to move forward. If you you know, I have to do that myself, you know, I constantly have to do it. And also to you To this day, you know, I talked about myself, I you know, I, every week, I'm in therapy, every week, I'm in acupuncture therapy, and every week, I'm in massage therapy, you know, I have to maintain what I eat. As far as food, I eat a lot of vegetables, I drink a lot of water, I don't mess with coffee, because coffee does have a negative influence on to mental illness, and I tried to everything natural, and then if I ever find myself in my head down, I'm you know, I have a certain group of people who I lean into, which is my community, that that can help it. So I'm using a lot of tools around me every day, in order to function and operate, we can never find a healing place. But this is our process to sustain ourselves to keep on going and remain kind of like in this flow of pursuing the healing piece. And pursuing that healing piece is is you being able to operate and function right, you know, being able to operate and do the right thing and make the right decisions and stay healthy being able to understand what what what would you call it, um, self care means, you know, really taking the time and understanding how what self care means and how you have to apply self care into your daily daily tasks, or what you're trying to do every day. You know, my, the way I look at is dealing with mental illness, depression, anxiety, PTSD, etc. It's a responsibility that you have to take upon yourself once when you get through that dark side, to sustain that, to sustain that you have to be able to add these kind of pieces into your life, to sustain yourself on the long term haul for your time for the rest of the time you are on this planet, basically, you know, if you don't do that, you will have some failures along the way. You know, you know, you know, yeah, you have some failures on that. That's really what what happened, you know, you know, so yeah, I hope that's the best. I don't know. I mean, that's, that's what I know what I've learned. And that's how I practice my life, you know, basically.
Mark Titus 28:40
Absolutely. And to be clear, I am not a mental health professional. And I'm pretty sure you're not either. We're certainly not offering a diagnosis or a regimen necessarily, but we will link to folks if you are experiencing mental trauma or, you know, having suicidal thoughts. We'll link to some resources in our show notes here on the website. And I will offer this though, that I completely agree with you on changing your life. And I found when I finally was able to surrender to the disease that I have in alcoholism, that I could then finally move forward and as the best person in our family, hands down with a family vote was my mom's cousin father john back from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and he said to me, actually, on my wedding day, he was at Vanka and my wedding and he said, Salvatore ambulance auto which means it is solved by walking. So keep walking, ask for help and and then do those things in your daily life. regimen like you were talking about chat. I, I hear you on all of that.
Chad Brown 30:03
Yeah, yeah. For sure.
Mark Titus 30:06
We're now without further ado, I'm so excited to get into Soul River, my bottom led me to film The Wild, your bottom led you to launching Soul River? What exactly is it? And why do you focus on youth? Why did that come to you as a means to be of service with the talents and the gifts that you're given?
Chad Brown 30:33
Well, you know, SOul River you know, it, it's, um it's Soul River is a way of finding, finding space for, for yourself to unravel and reconnect to nature and community. It's a way for souls to come together that are fighting on many different levels or whatever they fighting for, they can be able to come together and serve one another. And those souls are youth and veterans of what I focus on. Why I'm a veteran that suffers from PTSD. And me having an opportunity, a second opportunity to launch this organization, I look back on out what nature has done for me. And I feel that nature can do the same for many more other vets out there that are fighting as well as youth. You know, really the main reason why, you know, focusing on youth because I was that youth and I come from a broken home. I was also into games. And I had a really hard time growing up. And I my mother gave, you know, not giving but she she put me into the Big Brother and Big Sister Program. And my big brother. Ironically, my Big Brother happened to be the captain of the police department in Austin, Texas. And so
Mark Titus 32:12
That will keep you out of trouble.
Chad Brown 32:14
Yeah, exactly, exactly. You know, it's so he became my big brother. And so we did a lot of things together. And he would come and pick me up. And he you know, he actually, he did a scare tactic only one day, I remember it's clearly he, he took me to the Austin police department and took me down to the jail cell and had me do it done. fingerprints, I've done all my fingerprints right in front of them, and didn't know and then he took me down to one two jails and put me in a jail. And then he locked and locked me up and he walked away. You know? And, you know, and, and I was like, whoa, wait a minute. And I was freaking out and stuff like that, but he came back. You know, and he taught me and, and he says so you know, you know, he's like, yeah, you know, well, I want you to understand that, you know, we have two choices, two options in our lives, and you have every opportunity to, to, to make the best life that you want to make, or you have an opportunity to make another choice. And you you make this choice of going down this route here. This is this is where you may end up at, you know, a lot of people do end up here. And it's not a place where I want to see you so I you know want you to see like this is what happens when you make the wrong choice in life. Because this is what happens if you decide that you know, you disrespect your parents you disrespect elder, that kind of stuff. So he had his whole long conversation with me. And I was already in trouble. I was running games and, and all this kind of stuff and but it made an impact on my life. They definitely made an impact, you know, on my life, you know, and you know, so and I understand the importance of, of, you know of leadership and Guardian, or mentorship, understand why and in it's it's really really needed in our communities, especially in broken on families, you know, the mother she can she knows she does the best she can do and I was raised by a single you know a woman and and you know, my mom was awesome. She had to wear two hats, you know, but there's also a thing was when you know young young boys and young girls can can be able to also have a balance of support of you know of a Big Brother Big Sister type of relationship. You know, with you know, with the mentor someone that does that makes a big difference. It weighs out the the the the the raising of children. Basically, you know, that's like an extension of community, you know, that helps support the family. And, you know, so when I look back and look at the youth, especially, you know, the inner city youth and what's going on, and, you know, not a lot of the, you know, the inner city kids and youth of color has these, you know, various opportunities to be able to break away, and relaxing nature, you know, the mom and dad is working really hard. And some of them are coming from broken homes, and some of my actually raising their own their, their own selves up, you know, and so there's really no time, no time to actually know what recreation is about, you know, there's that time is not there, you know, and so we're looking at so rubber, that I was just like, Well, you know, this is what I'm going to do, you know, my march now is, is I'm going to reach out to, you know, inner city kids, I'm going to work with veterans use veterans as a way of bringing their leadership into that space, there are already a natural DNA leader automatically and connecting with our youth. And you know what, you put these two together by default that you've basically jolts that veteran, as a wake up of the fact that Oh, I remember who I am. I'm a leader. It gives them purpose. And it veteran injects that leadership like a big brother, a big sister, and that you face it gets an opportunity to get that big brother and big sister on board, and they become that youth's community hands down period. That community is that connected? family, you know, but yeah, amazing.
Mark Titus 36:41
Can you paint me a picture of a successful outing or one that's memorable for you? Just so we can get in our mind's eye? What this kind of looks like.
Chad Brown 36:51
A successful outing for me is when I'm able to witness the changing of life on a river in real time between youth and veterans. You know, it's it's not really about you know, anything else other than there's a journey that comes into play, because we go to very far off places of wild lands and in freshwater.
Mark Titus 37:18
Can you can you give us a couple examples of some of the places you go to?
Chad Brown 37:24
Some of those places that I go to? Some of the places that the organization goes to is like the Arctic, the Arctic Wildlife Refuge. We have been through down to the Florida Everglades, Utah, Navajo land. And we done some deployments down to Mexico, on the Hilo River. Yeah, we're pretty much all over the place. Yeah.
Mark Titus 37:55
Incredible. And it sounds like this is something that is reciprocal that the vets are getting just as much out of this as the young people are.
Chad Brown 38:06
Mark Titus 38:06
And that seems to be the things that work the best. And I found myself in when I'm fortunate enough to be in mentorship positions, either receiving or, or giving mentorship, that it is a reciprocal thing. I also found in and I encourage everybody out there to look up soul river.org and check out the soul river code. There are multiple examples here that absolutely intonate come from your military background. Yeah. stuff. Stuff like I serve my community and my team with honor integrity. Absolutely. I hold myself and my gear to the highest state of readiness. And I'd love for you all to read this. But the one that really stood out to me the most in this light is I lead by example. Yeah. And that, to me, suggests not just, I'm receiving something in this deal, but there's an expectation that I'm going to take something from this, and I'm going to contribute to the rest of the world through this experience. Is that true?
Chad Brown 39:14
That's very true. That's very true. That whole lead by example is, um, you know, you summed it up really, really well. It's, it's a definitely is kind of, like the mindset of, of veterans, you know, you know, and there's, there's, you know, is there's no such thing as throwing in the towel from a veteran standpoint, you know, we're gonna, you know, you give us a mission, we're gonna, you know, we may fall we'll fall through with it, you know, but, you know, our process, it may come back with duct tape or whatever, but, you know, we will follow through and we'll find a way, you know, and I think that's the mindset of like, you never, you never give up, you follow through with what you say you're going to do. Whatever that mission is and that mission is leading these youths and in following through with, with your leadership and experience to instill into these youth. And, and also along with that is the respect that we carry for our community and the remembrance of why we signed that dotted line to join the military, you know, and so there's a lot of deep respect a lot of honor, you know, intertwined with that leadership. And it's our opportunity to get these youth, you know, to see what we represent. And then in exchange to where these youth allow us to instill in them, our leadership, and it's many gifts, because they're getting gifts from all over the place, you know, and, you know, what I mean, gifts is like, I mean, like, you know, in the military, you got to, you know, men and women from all over the United States come from all over the place, you know, and, and with many, many different experiences, so you drop 12 veterans, each veteran, served in a war or not, they have a phenomenal amount of deep type of leadership that's very unique and very different. Compared to another veteran, you know, and so these you are in the mix of 12 veterans that are going to get a like, receive so much intense styles of different leadership, different community support system, a different type of confidence build, when we got young ladies in the mix, you know, they get an opportunity to take on different ways and layers from women leaders who are veterans, right, you know, these women veterans have done so much in fall and from their identity, their gender to them leading troops, I mean, it's on so many different levels. So these young girls, they get these gifts, these small, little gifts, right, and that each veterans giving them and it builds them up, you know, and you see that and that's the change. And that's when you start seeing that transformational change on the water in nature, between that veteran that you you see it, you you see it clearly, there's a shift that happens and, and it's pretty is it's, it's a miracle is beautiful, you know, and I think that's, that's really what gets me going and gets me back on the water, when I'm doing deployments is that that's what that's that's, that's, that gets me going theory, you know, but yeah.
Mark Titus 42:45
We're gonna shift into Love Is King here in a moment. But just to kind of put a cap on this, I was just gonna lead into that kind of experience of transformation. I was just going to ask you about that when you brought it up, I made the haphazard error of trying to instruct my wife in fine art of fly fishing, oh, spouses should not teach spouses how to fly fish. Fully, my dear friend, Dave McCoy stepped in and saved the day and gave Vanke of fly fishing lesson a couple weekends ago, and it went great. Imagine that. So I guess the way I'm framing this is that it's it's not the easiest thing mechanically, and especially if you're a young person, and you're, you're coming from maybe some trauma at home, and some you're bringing something to the river with you all the more. So what does that transformation look like to you? Can you maybe paint that picture for us? When there's a breakthrough? And that young person, like gets the way that the mechanics of fly fishing work for just a second and God forbid, actually catches a fish? And does that in the presence of natural leaders and mentors? What What does that look like to you? What's that satisfaction like for you?
Chad Brown 44:12
That's satisfaction, I would say to me, is seeing my, my circle closed again, like, you know, you know, how we can we can walk through life and feeling like incomplete or certain, you know, whatever that we're getting involved with, or, you know, what we're doing that gives me a complete circle that that a feeling of being complete. You know, I mean, yeah, you know, it also opens up a new circle. You know, it opens up A new circle, but that New Circle is now starting with, now we got work to do. And that work is how do we sustain that passion of that young person? How do we feed the passion and feed the desire and all of that young person to keep that young person in line and in focus. And, and so and that comes into play. So now, it's like, because they're hungry, they are young advocates, they're excited. And so it's also our job is to keep them excited. And by giving them more opportunities, showing them opportunity of where they can apply their excitement. And that's when we start helping them connect the dots to jobs, career paths that they can take. And because our ultimate goal from a veteran standpoint is, is really raising them up into future leaders for tomorrow, and conservation world, and if we can, you know, get them up to speed where they even go to college, you know, number one going to college is great. I mean, that's, that's like ultimate, that's awesome. And, and not every kid is made for that. And of course, it may just be intern or something, but we get them going in that direction. That's, that's what that's what we therefore. But if it goes further, and it's something they did go into conservation world, that's even sweeter, you know, but we don't I think we so revert, we don't really, we're not picky, we're just interested in making sure that the youth are always safe and moving forward in their lives. And, and we try to put the careers in front of them where they can see what they like to maybe pursue or not pursue. But the bottom line is that that is where the work gets put in for it reopens that circle reopens. And so it's more about a career path and leadership in sustaining that interest in showing how they can take their passion in and grow with that, basically,
Mark Titus 47:23
Soul River is beautiful. Thank you, Chad, we will link to that in our show notes. You have another venture, a new venture, it's called Love Is King. And I'm going to read from your mission statement here. It goes like this. "We're on a mission to activate, inspire and empower a humanitarian movement that will mobilize citizens of all colors to carry out our humanitarian obligation that will raise our collective consciousness, educate and help facilitate conflict resolution through love, empathy, respect, and a true sense of personal responsibility without discrimination". And it ultimately boils down to this one statement for me, "the freedom to roam in nature as a basic human right". I think that is brilliant. And so I would love to hear from you. And I know we'd all love to hear how did you come up with this vision? What is it entail? And how are you moving forward?
Chad Brown 48:27
Well, you know, I've always, I guess you could say it started out like when I'm speaking, you know, with different folks and stuff. One of the things that went broke, came to my to the forefront through a buddy partner, mind friend, who is now a board member, basically, but he kind of pulled it out. Because a lot of times when I'm speaking always interest Love Is King. And I say that a lot, you know, randomly, you know, and it's not my way of ending my conversation. But to go deeper with that, you know, when I was young, I was my father and my mom, they you know, they would read to me a lot and they would keep me, you know, keep books by my bed and stuff. And a lot of was a lot of Martin Luther King books. And it's so and I think my subconscious went there. As soon as I my buddy brought that into the forefront love is king. And I started thinking about that, you know, and you know, and it goes deeper because the fact that it does come from Martin Luther King's when the way he speaks and what he stands for, and, you know, and going off of the things that I'm witnessing the things I'm seeing that day and the things that has happened to me as an African American man, slash veteran in the outdoors. Because I have my share of, of racism and hate and crime done to me, um, you know, I think it got to a boiling point to where I felt like the main thing that we're missing in our society is his loving one another. But yet, it's that simple, but it's just that complex. And, and there's a lot of pain on both ends, you know of the spectrum here, you know, we never as a society stop to really have a conversation or have an apology, have a listen, instead of speaking out. We never did that to each other, you know, and we're slowly starting to try to do that. But the way things are things are so much in the boiling point that it's just, it hurts on both ends. And we go to war, we still haven't solved the problem, you know, and we've been in many wars and never really saw the problem with you know, what comes out of war is pain, loss, guilt, you know, mental, you know, whatever you want to call that, you know, this destruction on both ends. It's the same thing, what we do to ourselves, even on our daily tasks in our own society and our own lives, in our own communities. In really, the most simplest form, that can weave us together and bring us together is the act of love for one another. And, and it's something that's heavily missed in, in today's society.
Chad Brown 52:09
And, in the love I'm talking about is, again, it's, you know, Martin Luther King, he done it really well. And he lived his life, like this is the love of a warrior. And I'm not talking about the love and affection family as a husband or a wife, partner, or in a relationship. I'm talking about the love of a warrior, the ethos love of a warrior. And what I mean by that is, you are willing to step up for someone that can't speak for themselves. And you're willing to step into a place that's going to challenge you, that's going to make you feel that uncomfortable. That's going to make you even stutter step of even thinking about moving forward. Because the fact that it will probably either endanger you or cripple you or hinder you, or take whatever away that you have worked for in your life. But it's asking you to step up for this person here. That's the love that I'm talking about. And it goes so deep. And that's the deepness of the love of what is needed in our community. It's stepping in and standing up for not what you believe, but stepping in and standing up for others, to help them be able to pull themselves up and step in and create equal fair opportunity space for healing. And we need more debt. You know, my, you know, that's kind of like where love is Kim is all about, you know, Where, where, you know, the deepness of me, you know, of formulating this idea this concept is Yeah, you know, we need this is the this is a platform of action. It's not a platform to study diversity, equity, inclusion, or jetty or anything, those are needed. Yes, that's not a platform. This is a platform to step up on an actionable platform. If you're looking to step in, and put action to your heart to help others and, and and making the outdoors safe, making the outdoors assessable to BIPOC communities, elderly, LGBTQ communities, including even women, who are just by themselves, you find women that are afraid to walk down a trail by themselves, but only with the group. You have BIPOC communities that will only stay with their groups, but not venture out in the woods. You do find it saving the venture out are the ones that are really well seasoned in the outdoors like myself, but that's very, very little compared to the majority of masses or urban communities, there's a problem. And that problem is a shared fear across the entire platform that nobody's not talking about, and not willing to take the sit down, and listen to what that fear is, or what that person is dealing with. You know, and so, that's Love Is King, Love Is King is is is is about making a bias free space, in the outdoors, where people in all walks of life to be able to be themselves and feel free to roam in nature, without the hate, the bigotry, the racism and ignorance, because it's there. But we need to also make sure that we can eliminate that, you know, the best way possible for that young person, or that woman to feel comfortable the Roman nature, you know, and so but yeah, that's that's Love Is King. Yeah.
Mark Titus 56:13
What I'm hearing is a shared invitation for vulnerability, and empathy. Yep. And I can tell you, in my own life, when the me to movement really broke wide open, I did a, it just happened to be it was coincidental. I was in a gender equality workshop. And one of these exercises, we did some visualization. And I visualize my wife, and my mom and my aunt, and some of my best friends that are women, in some of these compromised situations, and for the first time had this breakthrough about this is so deeply personal, and we are living in such seemingly similar but utterly different worlds just by the difference in our sex, or our race, or the color of our skin. Absolutely. We're all the same race, but and I wept, I broke down and just wept, just imagining like my mom or my, my wife going through those situations that were so hurtful. And it was the same thing. And I got to say, you know, Chad with you, I know that you're at one, at least one time and your rig had gotten broken into and it was awful. And, and I was I was visualizing the same thing, and it hurt. And last, just over the weekend, here, I went out fishing myself. I went South Puget Sound, fishing for sea run cutthroat and tried a new spot was kind of off the grid or migrated anyway, and, and I got into fish. And it was I lost all sense of time. It was bliss, it was amazing. But I had an instance where I turned my head over my shoulder at one point, and there was a guy on the beach, and he was clearly very, very high. And if I had to guess he was high on meth or, you know, it was, it was a pretty intense thing. And he was trying to kind of get my attention. And I didn't feel particularly safe in that moment. And I started thinking about this now I'm, I'm a man with white privilege. And, and I started thinking about this conversation that we're having right now. And now coming full circle and bringing myself into what is that like for a woman on the trail or a person of color, who is in a rural place that is not necessarily filled with other people of color. And man, it hit me again, like a ton of bricks, this is the work you're doing this is is to try to make a place that at least psychologically feel safe for people to go to what I have taken for granted as the ubiquitous ultimate healer for all of us nature thing, and I take that for granted as a white person of privilege. So, you know, what I want to know is like, how do we do this? How do we provide safe places and safe experiences as allies and as advocates for empathy and for vulnerability and for healing and in the outdoors? How do we do this together?
Chad Brown 59:38
It's good question. Thank you for saying that and sharing. You know, I don't have all the answers, but I do know that it's going to take a community to make this work. Um, you know, and and when it comes to that community and working with allies is going to take. And I really appreciate what you're saying. But it's going to, it's going to take more of, of white allies to go a little deeper within themselves and not be so quick to create a response and give an answer to someone of what they're going through, it's going to take more, it's going to require that person to be disciplined to be able to sit and listen and learn how to, to their stories, they have a we BIPOC has a story. Within that story, there also are giving the community and white allies a very strategic map on what they're dealing with, and what they need help with. A lot of times, we get very caught up into amping up an answer before the person even finishes their story. It's not about giving answers, it's more about listening. And then when we learn how to listen, is when we are able to even come closer together as a community to start building this type of environment before we can get there, we need to start listening, then the process you just share with me is phenomenal. And it's awesome that you're able to see that I have faced many, many folks of white race, especially out, especially men and been challenged. In the end, it goes back to default, that doesn't exist, I've never experienced that. Okay. You know, so I'm just like, well, if fundamentally, the reason why it doesn't exist is because it's not, it's not about you, number one. And number two, is fundamentally that you're you are, you're white, and you move through life differently compared to how I would move through life as well. I hate to even bring that up and talk about it, but that's where we are at. And that's where our society is, you know, and that's what we have to deal with. Absolutely, that's what we deal with. Right. And, and so these are, again, these are hard conversations, but their conversation needs to be talked about, in a very healthy manner in a very respectful manner. And we need to start acknowledging these things, you know, and looking at it, you know, and when that person has that up when that person can, can that just said that, you know, I've never seen this, this doesn't happen to me, well, that person actually needs not to respond to that and realize that it's not about them, they just need to understand and take the time to listen to what this person is saying. And have and have, you know, Grace, apply grace to what's happening here, you know, what you listening to, you know, in empathy and in love. Right? You know, you know, because that's loving one another. And again, it's what I said earlier about the ethos warrior. That person who's at a white ally, what love is king has asked me to do is put yourself to the side and step into this space that's gonna make you a little bit vulnerable. And allow yourself to listen well, to what this person is saying. It may not make you feel good, it may make you feel bad. And that's okay. Because the fact that you are there, you showing up, and you're listening. And that's what's needed to get done first. Once when you start listening to one another is that's when we can start coming together. And now we can start working together to solve a problem. Because by you letting down your personal and stepping in that space. You're also opening yourself up of connecting to that person. And guess what you should now you're sharing a love for that person. You sharing empathy, sharing your applying grace, and because the fact that what's happened is that you're starting to care for what that person has went through, when you start to care about something is just as most important is that I go into the outdoors. And I find my aha moment when you find your aha moment. What does that mean? That means you're willing to step up and protect the land. You want to step in and protect the fish, right? Same thing here is finding that aha moment with that person, right. You learn From that person, you find it aha moment. And guess what, you're not just in white, you're not just an ally, but you're stepping in, because you want to support that person, you want to protect that person, you showing your love, and now we can work together, because neither one is don't want to get hurt anymore. Right? Neither one of us don't want to be, you know, yeah, you know, both the both of us wants the right thing. And what that right thing is, is equality is a safe space is a bias free zone, and the both of us feel comfortable, and we can have this awesome engagement of, of breaking bread together, and enjoying our time in nature together, you know, and guess what, we're still strangers, you know, you know, that's the beauty of this. Right? You know, and we're still strangers, you know, and, and, but, but we got common ground to where we can work together now, you know, you know, and, and so, but what I'm saying is, like, I don't have all the answers, those are really fundamental. But those fundamental things that I'll just say, to share is, it's complex is hard. It requires, is going to require the both parties, either on the listening stage or the you know, the information status sharing, etc. But it's going to acquire both people to be vulnerable. You know, love is gonna have to step in on many different levels for one another in order to work together. You know, my grandma used to tell me all the time, it's like, if you have an argument with your girlfriend, or in a girl's really south, love is supposed to step in, you know, if love doesn't step in, then there's a problem. And you will always have that problem. But if it has to get to that point, love steps in. That's what's supposed to happen, you know? And so we have to allow ourselves to allow love to step in for one another. On this path here, you know, both ways. Yeah.
Mark Titus 1:07:11
I think the perfect cap for this is is a quote that you included on your Love Is King site from Dr. King. And it goes "Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice. And justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love". To cap off this section, Salman healed me. Like I know nature has healed and continues to heal you and continues to heal us both. What are the mechanics of paying this forward? In the context of Love Is King? What? What kind of situations? What kind of programs and ideas are you going to implement, that folks can get involved with?moving forward? I know you're in the nascent phases of all this. Are there ways that people can get involved?
Chad Brown 1:08:08
Yeah, this many different ways. We have what we call Heritage Events, I got to update the site a little bit, you know, add this stuff there. But we got we call it Heritage Events, and heritage events gives an opportunity for white allies, to step into a space to help support BIPOC communities of entry into the outdoors. And what we do is we work together collectively, and we identify holidays throughout the year. And these holidays are celebrating holidays of many different people's cultures and lives. And we turn each holiday into a hairdos event. And give it a theme entry level thing into the outdoors. A good example is what this looks like say like, you know, Black History Month, and we have a heritage event happening this weekend. And so at the heritage event, we work collectively with conservation groups, and also corporate companies, and also individuals, and collectively as a community. We came together and created this interesting, called the Matthew Henson Outing Experience. And we're doing it right in the foothills of Forest Park. Again, entry level, easy level to easily get in and have a really awesome time. But it's kind of like taking what you go through through a natural history museum. When you have a guide is talking about the history talking about the culture, etc. We lift that up, we leave the walls of the museum there and we apply that into the outdoors. So you come to the trailhead, you have two guides, you have a natural guide is going to be guiding the team guiding the people. And then we're going to have a guy like a professor who's knowledgeable about Matthew Henson's life and he's going to basically tell them The story of Matthew Henson, this gives us an opportunity to elevate this figure, it gives off to celebrate Black History Month and to tell a story, while new folks have come into this space, the hike and create a really awesome, interesting experience. And it's all collectively done together. And so we would Love Is King sit down on the calendar and work with each partner and identify, we'll do the same thing for LGBTQ celebration, we'll do the same thing for Native American History, etc, and on and on and on. But we create these really interesting outings you know, so we have the Matthew Henson outing, and then we had the Buffalo Soldiers outing, which they would not people don't know. But they were the first regiment to ride their bikes through the National Park. And so we got tied into a single track mountain bike, basically experience tied into the history of the storytelling of the Buffalo Soldiers. And then we're going to have the Yeah, thank you. Yeah. And then and you know, so it goes on and on. And so that's one thing. So cool, is we're constantly You know, this, again, this is an actual platform. So it opens itself up to many people, all people who wants to volunteer support to help create these heritage events. And these heritage events really focused towards bringing new BIPOC community into the outdoors, creating a safe space from learning a safe space for creating awesome memories. And we all learn about the stories and the history, etc, of that land while we're walking down the trails. And it's a really, collectively deeper impact for community growth. From a corporate standpoint, down to BIPOC community leaders, you know, you know, and we also have what we call, what do you call it a Stories Over Silence. And this is a, you know, this is another way to participate, but it's much more catered towards a more bipa, but is open, but what it is, it's, you know, it's really simple, we give out like a go to 1234 step of outline that we want you to speak to, and you just basically use your phone, in video record, you know, about, you know, the video about your experience in the outdoors, tied to welcome access and safety. And it's called Stories Over Silence, and everything so and when you record it, we post that this gives people an opportunity to learn and listen. It takes away the charge, from having to, you know, ask questions, etc, to that person because they record it. And but this just basically puts you in a position just to listen and learn from people of color, have their experiences called Stories Over Silence, you know, you know, and so those, I just named a couple things. But we're also looking for volunteers to help support on many different levels. It's a new nonprofit in and we are and we're growing. Yeah.
Mark Titus 1:13:01
It's fantastic. And just so our listeners know, when you're referring to BIPOC. Yeah, can you elucidate that for us?
Chad Brown 1:13:09
Black Indigenous People of Color.
Mark Titus 1:13:12
Thank you. And we, of course, are going to link to the all the work you're doing on our site and at evaswild.com, but just so if folks are driving right now, where can they find your work and how to get involved?
Chad Brown 1:13:27
Yeah, so my personal work, now the store is out there. My personal work, my photography is chadocreative.com. And then my nonprofit number one is soulriverinc.org. You can always you can go you find all the information you need on that. And then, but third, I'm sorry, my second nonprofit is loveisking.org. And so you can find that online as well.
Mark Titus 1:13:57
Awesome. Yeah. Well, we'll link to all of that in our show notes at Eva's while.com and but nobody gets out of here without doing the speed round. So, here comes the speed round questions for you. Are you ready?
Chad Brown 1:14:09
I don't know what a speed round is.
Mark Titus 1:14:12
Okay, there's just a rapid just a rapid fire coming at you real quick. It's, it's not too mind bending. But basically, picture this. Your house is on fire. We don't want that, of course. But if it were, of course, you get your loved ones out first. But in addition to them. What's the one physical thing you save from the fire?
Chad Brown 1:14:34
My dog, my service dog.
Mark Titus 1:14:36
Of course. My goodness. What's your dog's name again?
Chad Brown 1:14:39
His name is Axe.
Mark Titus 1:14:41
Chad Brown 1:14:42
Yeah, he has his own website.
Chad Brown 1:14:50
Yeah, so anyway.
Mark Titus 1:14:53
Is it just axe.org
Chad Brown 1:14:56
is it's axetheservicedog.com
Mark Titus 1:15:01
Mark Titus 1:15:06
Dogs are gonna want it my dogs are gonna want a website now. All right now let's let's call it your spiritual house. Let's say your spiritual house is on fire. What are the two most important things about your life that you take with you?
Chad Brown 1:15:21
Wow, my spiritual house.
Chad Brown 1:15:27
That I would if my my house is on my mouse is still on fire right now?
Mark Titus 1:15:32
Yeah. So if you could take two things that were most important to you in building your spiritual life, your life of integrity, your you know, mental health life? What are those two things?
Chad Brown 1:15:50
Well, Axe is already taken. So I would say, my, my rod, and my camera.
Mark Titus 1:16:09
Those are important. Yeah, I would, I would say the same. Those are a big up on my list too. And would you leave anything behind in the house to burn or be purified in the fire?
Chad Brown 1:16:20
Uh, I would probably if I had opportunity to come back, I would take my bows, my archery bows, and then I'll leave everything else, as is.
Mark Titus 1:16:32
Good enough. Chad Brown, you are always an inspiration and always so fun to talk to, we could go on. And I'm hoping you'll come back another time. And we can check in and see how Love Is King is doing and see how we can continue to further support your work with Sol river and I hope we get the chance to fish together one of these days.
Chad Brown 1:16:51
Yeah, that'd be awesome.
Mark Titus 1:16:53
Yeah. All right. Well, for now, take care. And thank you all for tuning in. And we'll see you next time.
Chad Brown 1:17:00
All right. Thank you. Take care.
Mark Titus 1:17:17
Thank you for listening to Save What You Love. If you like what you're hearing, you can help keep these conversations coming your way by giving us a rating on Apple Podcasts. You can check out photos and links from this episode at evaswild.com. While there you can join our growing community. By subscribing to our newsletter, you'll get exclusive offers on wild salmon shipped to your door, and notifications about upcoming guests and more great content on the way that's at evaswild.com. That's the word save spelled backwards wild dot com. This episode was produced by Tyler White and edited by Patrick Troll. Original music was created by Whiskey Class. This podcast is a collaboration between Eva's Wild Stories and Salmon Nation and was recorded on the homelands of the Duwamish People. We'd like to recognize these lands and waters and their significance for the peoples who lived and continued to live in this region, whose practices and spiritualities were and are tied to the land and the water and whose lives continue to enrich and develop in relationship to the land waters and other inhabitants today.