Myrian Solis Coronel is an REI marketing executive. She also serves on the California State Park and Recreation Commission. Before taking part in a Zócalo/Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County panel discussion titled “Is Nature Only for White People?” at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, she spoke in the green room about trusting your gut, saving the world, and talking to strangers through fences.
What’s one of your most memorable experiences with nature?
There’s a beautiful memory from when I was growing up in San Diego. Both my parents worked, so my grandmother would pick us up at school until we were in middle school. And she would have activities lined up for us: We would go to the library, we would go to the community garden, we would do all kinds of stuff.
And we would go to this beautiful place, Border Field State Park in San Diego, right on the border of Tijuana and San Diego. It has terrain that goes from being inland to the beach, and it’s about a three-mile walk, and once you get to Monument Mesa there’s the border fence. And back in the mid-’80s you’d go up to the fence and talk to people on the other side of the border. And my grandmother would bring a picnic and we’d talk with people on the other side of the border and just have these great conversations with people. They would reminisce on things they had in common—they would talk about Mexico or music or a famous singer.
Maybe in my grandmother’s eyes, it was just to get us out in the fresh air. But she was instilling this sense of connection with other people.
What are you reading for pleasure?
I have a four-year-old and a two-year-old, but when I’m not reading a children’s book I try to read something for myself. What I’m reading now is Save the World & Still Be Home for Dinner: How to Create a Future of Sustainable Abundance for All, by Will Marré. It’s about how we can create meaningful change in day-to-day actions and still have a positive impact in your community or your workspace or your volunteer life.
What’s on your living room walls?
Art and photos. A lot of the photos are of me and my husband and our kids, of places where we’ve traveled. My husband and I just celebrated our 20th year together. When we had kids we wanted to continue to have this love for travel and exploration and eat incredible food and meet people and learn about culture and history by traveling. And a way to show our love for the world and instill this sense of curiosity in our kids is, we display our photos in the house.
What’s some of the best advice you ever got?
Trust your gut. There have been moments when it might be me in a boardroom, it might be surrounded by incredible leaders, and I have an idea or a reaction and there have been a couple times when I didn’t trust my gut because I felt it maybe wasn’t what the board was looking for. And then, it was! So I need to remember to trust my gut and say, ‘I’m here, I have a point of view, I can shed light on things that maybe a person is not familiar with and I can open up more opportunities.’
Where’s your next trip?
My husband and I were just talking about this today: Latin America. Either Chile, or we’re going to go back to Argentina, Patagonia, or Peru. I don’t know—there are so many places.
If you could time-travel, where would you go?
I think this snapshot comes to mind because of my connection to my family, and I miss my grandparents and maybe I want to connect back with them, to their origin, where they were born. And it was in Morelia, Mexico, and I’ve never been there. I would love to travel back to when my grandparents were kids. What were they doing? What were they playing? What were they eating? What were they listening to?