Nov 24, 2020
Diversity in the Outdoors: Ten Organizations You Should Know About
These organisations and individuals have been working hard towards increasing representation of underrepresented communities in the outdoors–creating a movement to reach more allies, while promoting a more inclusive playground.
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Several organizations and individuals have been working to bridge the gap between the participation and representation of minority communities (BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and other diverse identities) in the outdoors by providing a platform to share untold stories from the outdoor community. This has also led to an increase in opportunities for the underrepresented communities in outdoor adventure sports and helped create a more equitable and welcoming environment.
The year 2020 saw undeniable prominence of the Black Lives Matter Movement which made several communities across the world reach out to voices of colour that have faced inequalities and discrimination–including in the outdoor space. This is a list (which is by no means exhaustive) of a few organizations and individuals working on building an inclusive space for minorities in the outdoors, while promoting diversity in a predominantly white industry.
1. Danielle Williams: Founder, Diversify Outdoors and Editor at Melanin Base Camp:
“I founded Melanin Base Camp in February 2016 and Diversify Outdoors in January 2018 in order to increase ethnic minority and LGBTQ+ participation in the outdoors.”
Since 2018, Danielle has been busy building a network of outdoor diversity and inclusion organizations, advocates, and influencers around the hashtag #DiversifyOutdoors. She is an African American adaptive athlete and skydiver with over 600 jumps, who is happiest when subverting stereotypes and deconstructing harmful outdoor narratives.
Diversify Outdoors is a coalition of social media influencers – bloggers, athletes, activists, and entrepreneurs – who share the goal of promoting diversity in outdoor spaces where people of color, LGBTQIA, and other diverse identities have historically been underrepresented. Their goal is to increase the visibility of outdoorsy black, indigenous, people of color (BIPOC), to increase their representation in media and advertising.
2. Paradox Sports
“Adaptive Climbing That Defies Convention”
Paradox Sports is dedicated to helping grow the climbing opportunities for people with disabilities using adaptive climbing initiatives both in outdoor and indoor spaces. It offers accessible climbing experiences for people with disabilities, breaking the perception that people with a disability cannot lead a life of adventure. Since 2007, Paradox Sports has helped grow climbing opportunities nationally for people with disabilities through the Adaptive Climbing Initiative and their annual world-class rock and ice climbing trips. Their partnership with The North Face has enabled them to develop the Adaptive Climbing Initiative, providing adaptive climbing training and increasing access across the country.
To paraphrase the words of Malcolm Daly (@maldaly co-founder of Paradox Sports), “We don’t care what you can’t do but what you can. What I can do is climb. I may not be the best climber, but I am persistent and I do have fun. That’s why I go to Paradox Sports events. I get to work on the sport I love and I get to hang out with some of the best people I have ever met. Climbing has brought me all over the country and the world.” (Source: Paradox Sports)
3. Greening Youth Foundation
“Engaging underrepresented youth and young adults, while connecting them to the outdoors and careers in conservation.”
Angelou Ezeilo founded the Greening Youth Foundation on realizing the disconnect between movements for conservation and the education of people about that preservation. It is working to equip underrepresented youth to be stewards of natural resources by infusing workplace development with culturally relevant environmental education principles. “In this time, we lean on our diverse leaders and look at the value of our history as we guide ourselves towards a better future.”
GYF is based in Atlanta, Georgia, and seeks to empower the underrepresented youth from local communities through internships and programs in association with land management agencies. Their aim is to create a potential green career pathway. GYT’s cultural-based environmental education programs are designed to create an overall healthy community and they invite professionals from different fields to help with their activities.
4. Latino Outdoors
“Connecting cultura y community with the outdoors.”
Latino Outdoors is a Latinx-led organization working to create a national community of leaders in conservation and outdoor education. They aim to inspire and connect people from the Latino community in the outdoors along with providing a platform for sharing narratives. They are trying to break down real and perceived barriers to the outdoors by in a variety of ways, such as free, volunteer-led outdoor activities in a welcoming environment that reach thousands of participants annually, and by providing leadership, mentorship, and professional opportunities.
In an effort to make the outdoors a safe and welcoming community for everyone Latino Outdoors is working to connect, inspire and engage Latino communities while ensuring their history, heritage, and leadership are valued and represented. They have moved much of their programming online at the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
5. Black Girls Run
“Black girls run? Of course,we do! We provide a community to inspire ALL women, especially Black women to be healthy & active. Join us on the pavement!”
Black Girls RUN! is an initiative to encourage African-American women in particular and all women in general to adopt a healthier lifestyle. BGR has appointed ambassadors in different regions of the country and organise regular meet-ups and community activities.
“The best part of BGR! is that you have someone you can link with no matter where you are in the country!” (@officialblackgirlsrun)
Black Girls Run! was born out of the need to tackle the growing obesity trends in the African American community by providing resources and support to both new and veteran runners.
6. Brown Girls Climb
“BrownGirlsClimb, LLC Leadership by women of color on the rock + Mentorship + Community + Education + Climbing.”
Brown Girls Climb is a Black, Indigenous, Women of Color (BIWOC) founded and run company based on a strong belief in using their platform to drive economic justice in communities of color. “We want to build a community where your voice is represented in the industry and the crag and you’re able to connect directly with other folks like you!”
Brown Girls Climb is a collective of Women and Femmes of Colour interested in climbing. It is committed to amplifying the experiences of BIPOC communities, increasing representation, and providing inclusive opportunities to climb and experience the outdoors. They offer a variety of services with the motive to provide a supportive environment for individuals to grow and connect in the outdoors.
7. The Outdoor Journal Tour
“Empowering women through mindfulness + Mother Nature.”
The Outdoor Journal Tour is a community created for women to facilitate personal growth and alignment through different personal discovery and healing tools and experiences such as meditation, journaling and physical activity combined with the outdoors. It provides the participants a platform to connect with like-minded women and the experiences are designed (and customized) for those who seek to dive deeper into their personal development–through either virtual or classic programmes/tours.
“Community. That is the heart of Outdoor Journal Tour.”
The #wehiketoheal campaign by The Outdoor Journal Tour is both a dialogue and a movement. It was aimed to encourage women all over the world to tap into the healing and empowering influences within themselves, their communities, and the great outdoors (throughout the month of March 2020, mindfulness resources were shared on the four pillars–Mind, Relationships, Body and Community–and the ODJT team hosted WHTH hikes all across the world).
8. Joy Trip Project
“Story Sharing for a sustainable world.”
James Edward Mills is the author of The Joy Trip Project–a newsgathering and reporting organization that covers outdoor recreation, environmental conservation, acts of charitable giving, and practices of sustainable living.
Mills is a journalist and media producer based in Madison, Wisconsin who has worked in the outdoor industry since 1989 as a guide, outfitter, independent sales representative, writer and photographer. He is the author of “The Adventure Gap: Changing the Face of the Outdoors” which chronicles the first all-African-American summit attempt on Denali, the highest point in North America and is the co-writer/co-producer of the documentary film “An American Ascent”.
9. Mikhail Martin: Co-Founder, Brothers of Climbing and OWNYOUR Media
“My name is Mikhail Martin and one of my missions in life is to create as many opportunities as possible for my community in the outdoors.”
Mikhail Martin is a software engineer based in New York City who co-founded Brothers of Climbing, The Color the Crag Climbing Festival and OWNYOUR Media.
In 2012, Mikhail Martin, a software engineer by training based in New York, and his crew started Brothers of Climbing (BOC), an organization dedicated to bringing diversity to the rock climbing community. Other co-founders include David Glace and Andrew Belletty who are helping make climbing and the outdoors a place for everyone with their growing crew. The Color the Crag Climbing Festival was an event in 2019 to celebrate diversity in climbing while OWNYOUR Media is a series of online film festivals, all dedicated to giving individuals who love the outdoors a platform to share their voices, images, and stories.
Outdoor Afro is a national not for profit organization, operating from Washington DC, that has become the country’s leading network that celebrates and inspires Black connections and leadership in nature. With nearly 90 leaders (national volunteer network) in 30 states from around the country, Outdoor Afro helps connect thousands of people with the outdoors and is working towards inclusion in outdoor recreation, nature, and conservation for all.
If you’d like to learn more, get connected, and give back, please follow these accounts, and check out their websites.