New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

Alum’s start-up brings nature into city life


CAS alumna Sarah Knapp is using her organization OutdoorFest to bring nature back to New Yorkers typically immersed in the city concrete.

Knapp works with other NYU alumni, including Tisch alumnus Ben Gross, Stern alumnus Camille Aussourd and Gallatin intern Jaime Hall to connect New Yorkers to outdoor activities.

OutdoorFest’s main event is a 10-day festival held from May 30 to June 8, but the team also organizes events for parkour, hiking, biking and trivia throughout the year.

Knapp and her team, who started the company in October 2013, provide environment-friendly events and activities and strive to create a community for people to share their love of the outdoors.

“We work to achieve our mission of making the outdoor lifestyle more accessible through three main avenues: information, inspiration and experience; curated online resources, events and content that inspire; and a 10-day festival every summer,” Knapp said.

Knapp and the staff recently started an event called Mappy Hour in March of this year, which Knapp describes as happy hour for outdoor enthusiasts. Mappy Hour is held once a month for outdoor adventurers to plan their next trips and share stories about previous places they have explored.

Despite living in such a metropolitan area, Knapp said it is still important to incorporate an element of nature into the city’s urban landscape. Gallatin freshman Rosie Gilroy agreed with the benefits of nature.

“Nature is able to bring a peaceful break from the craziness of the city,” she said.

CAS freshman Kajal Malik said the outdoors can be an escape from city life, as well as an educational tool.

“I think that seeing nature is integral in being more environmentally aware,” Malik said. “The fact that nature is so rare in the city causes people to recycle less and to just generally care less about the environment. Seeing nature and its beauty will cause people to want to conserve that aspect of the world.”

Knapp’s OutdoorFest endeavor has already been well-received.

“We’ve been at max capacity for each event, plus [we’ve] had a ton of fun,” Knapp said.

OutdoorFest is currently working on an photo series that will feature a collection of photographs and portraits of New Yorkers who balance their fast-paced city lives with their love for the outdoors.

The inspiration for the photo series gives insight into Knapp’s original motivations for creating OutdoorFest.

“I believe that you can live in a major urban environment and still be an outdoor enthusiast,” Knapp said. “I also know that amazing people and resources already exist within the city — what’s missing is a way to connect.”

Knapp said she hopes OutdoorFest will be that connection and allow New Yorkers to take a break from the chaos of the city and enjoy the outdoors and nature.

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, April 7 print edition. Se Won Park is a contributing writer. Email her at [email protected].

*Correction: A previous version of this article misspelled the names of Ben Gross, Camille Aussourd and  Jaime Hall. 

WSN regrets the error.

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