In this series, BUFF and Flylords have collaborated to highlight some outstanding members of the wider community who are taking action to drive change, in their communities and around the world. In highlighting these unique individuals through the lens of their struggle, tenacity and passion; we aim to share the stories of these fishermen as they push to inspire activism in their communities as well as future generations. This is, “Fishermen’s Paddle Change”.
In this episode, we’ll highlight the nonprofit, creative, and conservative leader: Chad Brown.
About Chad Brown:
Chad Brown is best known for his work in the non-profit sector, particularly as head of two large non-profit organizations; Soul River Inc. AND Love is King, which target underrepresented communities and focus on teaching new, important life skills, including those in nature. However, there is much more to Chad Brown than meets the eye.
In 1990, Chad enlisted in the United States Navy, serving in operations such as Desert Storm, Desert Shield, and Operation Restore Hope – Somalia. During his deployment, Chad also spent a short stint in Antarctica, which was his first, but certainly not last, visit to the frozen tundra. After his discharge, Chad went on to earn a Master of Science in Communication Design from the Pratt Institute in NYC and began working in the design world in the city.
However, even with his success, Chad found himself quietly slipping into a state of depression as he was consumed by a battle with PTSD. Eventually, after months of struggle, he found himself homeless and trapped in a state of addiction to the very drugs intended to help him overcome the disease. It wasn’t long before he was forced to make an unsuccessful attempt to kill himself. It was then, after his stroke of luck, that he discovered fly fishing.
Through the sport of fly fishing and a rekindled appreciation for life and exploration, Chad set his life on a new path. Seeking solace in nature, Chad planned to use the lessons learned from the hardships he had endured and made it his mission to share those lessons with others. Finding an outlet through teaching and aiming to inspire others through art (see his photography portfolio, HERE.) and outdoors, Chad launched his first non-profit organization: Soul River Inc. in 2010.
Soul River Inc focuses primarily on pairing veterans and inner-city youth to teach children lessons that “cannot be found in a class”, mainly through fishing. The program is a great opportunity for veterans to pass on their skills to the next generation and for kids, who may not have had access to it before, to find mentorship in outer space.
While Soul River Inc. growing up, Chad also pursued his passion in the creative space. Making a name for himself as a remarkable storyteller through photography and video, Chad continues to this day to create film and art around marginalized voices, both through the lens of humanity and race, and through ecological conservation. and cultural. In 2020, Chad founded his second non-profit organization, Love is King.
Love is King focuses on promoting leadership among BIPOC communities in outer space, particularly through the ROAM program. “Roam (Advanced Continuous Rapid Missions) will provide an opportunity for BIPOC leaders to enter the realm of public land and freshwater conservation efforts and disrupt the historical system that has allowed BIPOC voices to remain uninvited into the space. government where the decisions about the land were made. and wildlife and indigenous conservation policies.”
Today, Chad Brown and his canine partner in crime, Axe, can be found anywhere from his office in Portland, OR, to the Arctic Tundra creating his next film. Chad spends much of his time these days traveling to give talks on his initiatives and to inspire others to practice “living through love”, spreading the word of peace and equality.
From Chad Brown onwards, “Who is Chad Brown?”
“I think I’m still trying to figure out who I am.”
“I run two non-profit organizations, am a business owner and an entrepreneur. I’m also a creative professional, wearing several hats in that space as a photographer and filmmaker. I also tend to rein in my creativity and use it as a way to navigate the business world as an entrepreneur. I think one of the biggest things about myself and how I run the business to do what I do for a living is that I like to get into more unconventional spaces or, or if that’s not available, and create the space that is unconventional, which allows me to be more creative and unique in what I am trying to achieve in terms of business. I think traditional spaces are great. And there is a purpose to them, but it’s very, very difficult for me to navigate them sometimes.
Especially, as an African American in the business space, “traditional” is, it’s a very difficult barrier that prevents me from doing what I need to do. But when I’m in a creative space, it allows me to create a unique platform. This puts me in a position where I can not only execute my ideas related to my organizations and our new business concepts, but also allows me to create new relationships within that creative business space. I think I’m more creative behind the scenes trying to find new ways and explore new concepts about bringing people together to change lives. [For Instance] engaging young people in the sport of fly fishing and dismantling and breaking down the barriers of financial barriers, making it available to people who may not otherwise be able to afford to enter the sport. I want to create change and entering a creative space allows me to create change by breaking down barriers and dismantling ignorance, racism, prejudice and bigotry.
What I do really allows me to blow it up and get down to the skeleton of humanity and who we are. I have bones, like you have bones, you bleed like me. This is the foundation of the tapestry or creativity that I am weaving into my endeavors. I’m trying to create that space where everyone feels unique and heard. As a fisherman, where sometimes I tend not to identify myself as a fisherman, and identify more as a vessel, basically, to bring people together in new spaces. Green spaces within a conservation space”.
To learn more about Chad Brown and his current initiatives, you can find his websites at www.soulriverinc.org and www.loveisking.org, you can also find his full portfolio of work with photos and videos IN Chado Creative.
Thank you BUFF to make “The Change of Fisherman’s Paddle” possible. Look at them hereto continue supporting initiatives that drive change.
All photos ©FlylordsLLC
Faces of Fly Fishing: Catching Up with Chad Brown
How one man is helping veterans and inner city youth heal with Fly Fishing