Heading Back To Alaska

Heading Back To Alaska

Thank you SO much for continuing to follow along on The Joy Trip Project. After 14 seasons of production, I am very grateful for the support and encouragement of readers, viewers and listeners like you.

It’s hard to believe that the summer of 2022 is more than half-way through. You’d think that after trek toEverest BaseCamp back in April I’d have enough adventuring for the year. But this weekend I’m heading back to Alaska for a new film project in the Gates of the Arctic National Park. The film is called Black Waters. I’ll be traveling with an amazing crew of Black men who are leading the way toward greater representation and inclusion in outdoor recreation and environmental conservation. Led by Chad Brown of Soul River, Inc. and Love Is King, we’ll have along as well Nick Brooks of Outdoor Gear & Beer from Atlanta, Jahmicah Dawes of Slim Pickin’s Outfitters from Stephenville, Texas, Alex Bailey, founder of Black Outside Inc. from San Antonio and Dudley Edmondson, a nature photographer from Duluth, Minnesota and author of the book Black and Brown Faces In America’s Wild Places.

Our goal is to share an extraordinary journey through one of the last remaining true wilderness areas in the United States. In the process, through our personal narratives and experiences we hope to shed some light on what it means to be a Black man in the great outdoors. We’ll be off the grid and out of WiFi range for more than week. Stay tuned for social media posts and online updates when we get back later this month!

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In the meantime, take a look at a few of the new media productions from the Joy Trip Project. I was truly honored and excited to have the opportunity to interview Baratunde Thurston, host of the new PBS documentary series called America Outdoors. The author of the book How to Be Black and the creator of the How To Citizen podcast leads television viewers on an exploration of six distinct regions of our country and introduces us to a few of people who call these remarkable landscapes home. From the Pacific Ocean beaches of Los Angeles to the Boundary Waters of Minnesota, Thurston shows us the heart of America through the lives of folks who embrace the wonders of the natural world. Give a listen to our conversation on the latest edition of the Joy Trip Project podcast.

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Speaking of audio stories, I had the pleasure to be on the other side of the microphone with the National Geographic podcast Overheard. Hosted by my friend and colleague Peter Gwin this online program takes a behind-the-scenes look at the stories of NatGeo explorers in the field. He and I talked about our recent journey to Everest BaseCamp and included excerpts from my interview with mountain climber Demon “Dom” Mullins who this season became one of the first Black American men to reach the highest summit in the world. You can hear this discussion and read the transcript on the National Geographic website.

Finally, before I head to Alaska, I just finished up the last week of my course “Outdoors For All” at the University of Wisconsin Madison Nelson Institute For Environmental Studies. This year I had 13 truly inspiring students eager to learn about the root causes of the many cultural and social disparities that limit equitable access to the outdoors and public land. After four weeks of diligent reading, study and in-class discussion through this online course they now have a rudimentary understanding of how they might help to make our wild spaces more diverse and inclusive.

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I am grateful for the support and contributions of my four remarkable guest speakers whose books and ongoing advocacy continue to inform and inspire our collective efforts to protect our natural resources for future generations. Thank you to Dr. Carolyn Finney author of Black Faces/White Spaces, National Park Ranger Shelton Johnson author of Gloryland, Catherine Coleman Flowers author of Waste, and Majora Carter author of Rebuilding Communities. Each of these titles are included in the Joy Trip Reading Project book group. You’ll find video discussions with the authors of most on our YouTube Channel.  One of my greatest joys in life is having supportive personal relationships with such esteemed professionals who are so generous of their time and wisdom to share in the education of young people. There is nothing more exciting to me than to hear a student say to one of my guests, “I want to do what you’re doing”.

Throughout the summer and into the fall there will be much inspiration yet to come. I hope you’ll continue to follow along on this great adventure I call The Joy Trip Project.

 

The Joy Trip Project is made possible thanks to the support of the Schlecht Family Foundation and the National Geographic Society. You can follow along on this and other amazing journeys  at Joytripproject.com.

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Author discussions on the Joy Trip Reading Project are made possible thanks to the support of the University of Wisconsin Madison Nelson Institute of Environmental Studies

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