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How nature influences Anna Whiteman's identity

Anna Whiteman, a New York based investor, is committed to empowering and connecting women in entrepreneurship. Anna was recognised by Forbes as part of their 30 Under 30: Venture Capital for 2021, named one of Entrepreneur magazine's 100 Powerful Women of 2020, and a rising star in venture by Business Insider's 30 and Under category. Growing up, team sports instilled in her the values of dedication and collaborative effort. Our conversation with Anna delved deeper into how nature profoundly influences her identity and approach.

What’s your favourite thing to do in nature?

Bodysurf! I love to spend an hour in the ocean just getting rocked by the waves with just myself to manage, no boards or accessories. It's the perfect way to recover from a big night out or to close out a day, it always leaves me exhausted in the best way. My family and I call it a "New Jersey Triathlon" when we can go for a run, a bike ride, and jump in the ocean all in the course of a day, doesn't matter what distance. My favorite days ever are when I can barely move my limbs because of all the running around in the sun and sand.

Describe your connection to nature: what positives does it bring to your life?

Where to even begin! The ocean I find so humbling in its power and sheer scale, and consistent in its rhythm. I find it so grounding to be around, no matter what season, thru pandemics and geopolitics and everything else that human beings cook up in the world, it continues to do its thing day in and day out. I also absolutely love connecting with new cities by getting out for a run, observing how people across the world move through their environments from an on-foot perspective. I've done some of my all-time best people-watching on the jog.  

What are your fondest memories of spending time in nature?

My favorite memory in nature was a bike ride across Sicily from Catania to Palermo over the course of seven days. It was so tactile the whole way, every bump in the road and every shout across the street, and every smell wafting in the air was available to experience. The terrain changed so beautifully over the course, from the outskirts of the city to the cliffs of Taormina to the base of Mt. Etna. We'd bike for about seven hours a day stopping for lunch wherever we fell, usually with a healthy serving of wine, which made the post-lunch bike even more of an adventure. By the end of the day, you were so exhausted and hungry that getting an insane local meal and a good night sleep felt like you won the lottery. It was amazing. 

Many of us are time-poor and might not get out into nature as much as we’d like. Any suggestions for a quick nature-based pick-me-up? Something sensory, experiential…?

One of my all-time favorite hobbies is people-watching, I find it endlessly fascinating to eavesdrop on a random conversation in the wild or imagine what some stranger on the street's life is like outside of that moment (is that weird?). So when I need a minute to just zone out or give my brain a break, I go to the nearest park bench or sidewalk cafe and just absorb the surroundings. It may not be beautiful outdoor nature every time, but you get to see people just being, in a candid moment, and I feel like that helps me reconnect with simplicity. It replicates the feeling of being in nature under the constraints of time and place. 

Koala Eco Journal


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