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On Belay, Sloths!

A BKB Interview with Slothgrip Founder Kevin Grinnell

Branching Out

After a lifetime of adventure, all climbing ropes must go into retirement. But where do they go? Thanks to Slothgrip, many retired ropes from Brooklyn Boulders are able to serve a great purpose in their second life: They branch out and become treetop speedways for sloths traveling in the rainforest.

Alternate routes

Sloths need climbing rope because sadly, and probably to no one’s surprise, deforestation is destroying their habitat and way of life. When trees are cut down, sloths and other wildlife lose their familiar connections to home, food sources, and safe routes for travel. To adapt, they rely on using electrical wires or busy roads, which can be dangerous, and even deadly, travel options.

But the climbing rope pathways help sloths avoid all of those risks. Now they can continue to hang out and move through life (and through trees) normally, no problem. Slothgrip helps make sure our chill, slow-moving rainforest friends have as many safe, alternate routes as possibleand they’re just getting started.

Meet the Slothgrip founder

To celebrate this mission and our new partnership, we sat down with Slothgrip founder, Kevin  Grinnell, for a quick interview. Check out our conversation below to learn more about him and his organization. In the meantime, if YOU want to help contribute to the cause, buy a patch or two from our BKB retail shop in Queensbridge and Gowanus (or head to Slothgrip’s page here)! All proceeds go toward funding different missions, including building the treetop speedways that help these gentle, glorious creatures travel safely and confidently through the trees.

Kevin, thanks for answering some of our questions! First, could you tell us a bit more about what or who inspired you to start this mission?

For sure! A few years ago I was pretty burned out from working in marketing, so I took a trip down to Costa Rica. The idea was just to practice Spanish and take a break from New York, but I ended up volunteering at an animal rescue center for a few weeks. The mindset in Costa Rica is very much about slowing down and appreciating what’s around you, and they also have a massive emphasis on taking care of the planet.

When I got back to Brooklyn, I really wanted to stay involved in a meaningful way. Slothgrip started from the idea of sponsoring sloths as a climbing teamand it just grew from there.

Your patches are now available for purchase Brooklyn Boulders. When people buy these patches, how are they contributing to the cause?

There are actually two ways they’d be helping out. The first is funding. We send 100% of profits to specific conservation projects for non-profit organizations. We have a few permanent projects, as well as ones trying to reach a particular goal. For example, right now our Leaf Claw patch is raising money to buy a fire prevention kit for the research site at the Gunung Palung Orangutan Project in Indonesia. Given our size, we choose projects where we know we can contribute and make a real difference.

The second helpful thing is awareness. We’ve found that climbers ask questions about the patches and stickers, which helps spread the word about the projects in an old school, grassroots way.

What’s been your favorite moment / accomplishment while working at Slothgrip?

It’s tough to beat our first trip down to deliver and hang 500+ meters of rope. Seeing it hung was such an awesome example of people pitching in to help solve a real problem, which was the whole idea behind Slothgrip from the beginning. Second place would be Kyra Condie buying a few patches and giving us a shout-out.

What goals do you have for Slothgrip this year and into the future?

This year is all about continuing to grow. I joke that the organization itself is very sloth-like, because it’s slow, deliberate, and enjoying the ride. It’s not easy scaling when it’s just me figuring things out as I go, but I’m determined to make it work. Right now the two big goals are more climbing gear and expanding the patches to retail in gyms.

Have you ever met a sloth you didn’t like?

Impossible. Next question.

Is there anything else you want our community to know about you and this mission?

Feel free to get involved! Our mission is broadly defined as “working together on problems and projects – on and off the wall,” which means we do local events (like park cleanups). We’re always looking for new ideas! Follow along on Instagram @slothgrip, and also feel free to send a message directly at kevin@slothgrip.com with any thoughts, suggestions, or requests for sloth photos.

And lastly, a BKB classic: What’s a weird fact about you?

I was really, really into card magic growing up and have a library of books on the subject. Somewhere there’s also a VHS of 12-year old me in a wizard hat performing a show on my neighbor’s driveway.

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