News & Stories

New Staff Member: Darrow Jones, Adventure Shop Manager

Wait, who are you and how did you get here?

Well I’m Darrow and yeah, I work here now… I manage the Adventure Shop, located in The Trailhead, and so far have spent most of my time with the Loppet Foundation right where the action is. And I gotta say, the thing most surprising about working here so far has been the staff. The rainbow of employees here that help make things happen is truly astonishing. Getting to know all of the staff, volunteers, and everyday adventurers of this community has been quite an experience. Coming into Loppet World practically gave me whiplash! But I’m glad to be here because of Loppet’s standing as a nonprofit in my community that helps people of color find their own individual love of nature.

Before I was hired on to manage the new bike and ski shop, I worked as a bike mechanic and service manager at Venture North Bike Shop in North Minneapolis. Through a partnership with Redeemer Center for Life, I am a bit of a guinea pig in this new endeavor to create pipelines for employment in the outdoor industry on the Northside. As a native of Minneapolis, I’m excited for this opportunity to do what I love while also introducing new audiences to all that Theo Wirth Park has to offer, not the least of which is some sick new mountain biking trails!

Okay so what kinda stuff are you into?

When I’m not fixing bikes and managing the retail store, I like to contemplate the heat death of the universe while around a bonfire, looking at the stars from my tent, twenty miles up the Minnesota river. I like to think myself an Adventurer, so I like to explore different trails and roads when I have time to kill. I like music – right now my favorite song is “Thuggish Ruggish Bone” by Bone Thugs and Harmony because, what can I say? Hip hop is life! I’ve also been taking in The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander and Born a Crime by Trevor Noah as my current reads, both of which I’d highly recommend to anyone! For me, these books have been helpful in terms of learning about growing up in a specific racial group and how that plays into the larger forces at work in society, all while showing that even in the midst of institutional racism and apartheid that you can still find humor and joy in life. Oh — I also really enjoy burgers, fish tacos, and jerk chicken!

Who’s your hero in life?

Random question, but easy answer: my mother, Suellen Hawkins. That woman set the bar so high that I still don’t think I’ve reached it! She passed away when I was 13 years old, however the lessons she taught me I use almost every day. That lady was single-handedly the kindest person I ever met, while at the same time having a zero-tolerance policy for bullying in any form it takes. She also made sure to make me know that the world was bigger than my neighborhood. I think I find the drive in the work that I do always boiling down to “would she have kept her mouth shut?” or “what would she have done?” She always seemed to be able to find and bring a smile to the person in the room that needed it most, no matter how they appeared.

What’s your next big personal adventure?

My next adventure is actually learning Spanish and going to Peru! I want to go do some soul searching and bikepack my way through the mountains to Bolivia. After my last adventure in Mexico, I learned that I have a ton more learning to do about the world. Having only a limited view of the world through the lens of a privileged American, crossing the border was a reality check. The level of kindness that exists even in the most dangerous situations really blew me away. I traveled about three weeks in a country where I couldn’t speak, or read the language, of which I only survived off the kindness of complete strangers. This was a total switch up from my experience in America, where we’re more likely to ignore someone with whom we have issues communicating. Through that experience I got to place myself in the perspective of someone that might be my neighbor back home, and a slice of the challenges they go through everyday. It helps to learn the language of the place you are seeking to visit for longer than five days, while also understanding that not everyone will have that skill when they come to visit your country. I truly believe that how you handle someone in that situation shows your character better than anything else.

Anything else you want folks to know about you?

I am wise. I am humble. I am funny. I am loveable. I am emotional.
I am skilled. I am adventurous. I am courageous. I am kind.
I am driven. I am motivated. I am human.
I am a poet.
I am Darrow.