How Cool Outdoor Club Usal is Reimagining Community

As the Usal team gears up for expansion we recently spoke with Washington to learn more about how he grew a seed of an idea into a thriving community, how he pushed past imposter syndrome, and the next city Usal is planning to foster and nurture community.

Is approaching the outdoors with a childlike curiosity the key to how you interact with nature today?

Yes, this is why I started Usal. I don’t fit into the box of climber, surfer, or runner. I like everything and I was like there’s so many climbing communities, surfing clubs, and running clubs but where is there a club for just liking everything? I can’t sit still. And while I didn’t know how to go on a foraging hike yet, I wanted to learn. I try to hold on to that curious, childlike state and use that to fuel what we do here at Usual. Everyone can come here and try so many things and maybe fall into one thing or maybe just continue on with what you’re loving. I want to create a space where we all can keep challenging ourselves and learning new things to avoid feeling stuck.

How did the pandemic plant the seeds of Usal? What was the final push to answer the calling to tap back into those early days outside as a child?

During that time period I was taking my own personal trips. I had a camper van in L.A., and California has a lot to offer as it comes to the outdoors. I was taking trips by myself and I started to share those on my Instagram story. People I’ve never met were reaching out and sending these paragraphs about how they’ve been following my journeys. That really gave me a lot of hope during this time period.

There is nothing superficial about going outside and doing something for your mental health. There’s nothing showboating about it. You’re not trying to be cool. So, I kind of sat back and I was like, something about this feels really great.

Unfortunately I didn’t make the jump right away because of imposter syndrome. I’m not the most outdoorsy person, so I didn’t believe I was the guy to start this idea even though I thought it was a great idea. But then I realized I was the perfect person to start this idea for exactly this reason.