The Joyful Embarrassment of Excellent Choices

Much of the past weekend I spent happily lamenting an embarrassment of excellent choices. It seemed that the third week of October 2017 was an exceptionally good moment in time to explore, discuss and celebrate the emergence of diversity within the environmental conservation movement. There were at least four events across the country that brought together people of color to share their efforts to make the outdoors more welcoming and accessible to a broader cross-section of the American people. Sadly I was only able to attend two of them. However, I can’t help but be wildly excited to discover that this very important issue is being addressed by so many people  from one side of the country to the other with such excitement, enthusiasm and passion. There seems to be no shortage of wonderful opportunities become engaged and envolved.

Dr. Carolyn Finney at the Nelson Institute

I want to put together a quick round-up of all the amazing events and meet-ups that happened over the weekend. I have to assume that there were others that I wasn’t even aware of. I want to see your faces! Please share your photographs, videos and stories with the hashtag #facesoftheoutdoors Tell me about your experience and maybe a little bit about what diversity in outdoor recreation and environmental conservation means to you.

My friend and colleague, Dr. Carolyn Finney graced the University of Wisconsin, Madison with a riveting presentation at the Nelson Institute For Environmental Studies. Her Jordahl Public Lands Lecture: “Ten Thousand Recollections” recounted the stories of her own family and several others over the last century who defined their place in the outdoors with compelling narratives of history, heritage and legacy. The other event was the Wisconsin Association For Environmental Educators Conference at which I was the keynote speaker. Of course I spoke about diversity, equity and inclusion in a talk titled “The Path of Convergence: Navigating the Flow of Synergy Through The Adventure Gap”.

Color The Crag attendees in a quick selfie Courtesy Justin Forrest Parks

Other events that I had wanted to attend, but couldn’t, included a gathering hosted by Patagonia in Yosemite Valley, California. The company aims to boost its ability to become more culturally relevant to a customer base that is growing among people of color. At Horse Pens 40 nature park in Steele, Alabama, Brothers of Climbing and Brown Girls Climb hosted the Color The Crag Festival. Their mission is “to increase access and exposure to historically marginalized communities by building relationships, encouraging leadership, and providing positive representation of climbing and physical activity among populations of color.”

That is certainly a mission that I share. As this wonderful surge of participation continues to grow and build momentum I sincerely believe that we can achieve lasting social change. I hope that by working together we can make the environmental conservation movement better reflect the diversity in our county that makes America truly great.

Post your comments below or drop me a note via email: info@joytripproject.com

The Patagonia Diversity Summit in Yosemite

(cover image: Dr. Carolyn Finney after her presentation enjoying drinks with friends Christopher Kilgour, Tony Dugas and Dr. Hazel Symonette)

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Author:James

I’m a freelance journalist that specializes in telling stories about outdoor recreation, environmental conservation, acts of charitable giving and practices of sustainable living.