Diversity

Art, Diversity, Environmental Justice, Film Festival, Mountain Film, Music, Podcast / 15.04.2011

Now that spring is in the air it’s time to start thinking about that next great road trip. In the coming weeks I’ll pack up the Jetta and head out on a tour of the adventure media and film festivals. Looking for stories that celebrate the active lifestyle and environmental conservation I’ll be reporting from the 5Points Festival in Carbondale Colorado and then the Mountainfilm Festival in Telluride. But as I’m making my plans I can’t help but think about how much our nation has changed over the past half century. Last year at Mountain Film I met a man who helped me put the freedom of road travel into a different perspective. Earnest “Rip” Patton is from Nashville, Tennessee. He’s considered an historian and a civil rights activist of the last 50s and early 60s.  Fifty years ago Rip was among first wave of student activists who road on buses into the Southern United States in the spring of 1961. Called the Freedom Rides the plan was to organize demonstrations in protest of racial segregation.
Diversity, Environmental Justice, National Parks / 10.03.2011

  Protecting the environment for future generations is great idea. In fact it’s a notion so simple that you might wonder why it took a White House committee 10 months, 52 public listening sessions and a 116-page document to express what any lover of nature knows by heart. Unveiled in February by President Obama, America’s Great Outdoors report offers a comprehensive list of recommendations to preserve wilderness and recreation areas throughout the United States for decades if not centuries to come. It’s a thorough series of proposals that provide logical solutions that aim to engage more citizens in outdoor activities. But this plan, ironically devised by the most racially diverse administration in our nation’s history, seems to neglect an excellent opportunity to make the great outdoors more relevant to the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population: people of color.
Diversity, Environmental Journalism, Environmental Protection, Kids in Nature / 18.02.2011

This is likely one of many hundred videos, hopefully thousands. But it’s the first to come across my desk and it prompted me to write in support of one young man who hopes to represent his generation on behalf of the environment. Christian Alvarado is among the teens and young adults across America vying for the Sierra Club’s Best Internship on Earth.

Diversity, National Parks, Outdoor Recreation, Yosemite / 18.11.2010

Can the power of celebrity bring more people of color into the National Parks? Yosemite Ranger Shelton Johnson thinks so and now that he’s grabbed the attention of talk show host Oprah Winfrey momentum is building to invite the rap star Snoop Dogg to go camping. A petition is being circulated in the hopes of enticing the urban music icon into the wild.

Breaking News, Destinations, Diversity, Environmental Protection, Yosemite / 29.10.2010

Yosemite National Park  Ranger Shelton Johnson was as surprised as anyone. “I was more than surprised,” he said in a recent phone conversation. “I was shocked. When the EMTs resuscitated me I was pretty much flat-lined.” Standing outside the south entrance to Yosemite National Park, Johnson thought he was awaiting the arrival of six African-American women, all about to have their first camping experience. “I was told they’ve been friends since college and they were being reunited at a spa,” he said. “But unbeknownst to them they were being taken to Yosemite Valley for a camping trip instead. At least that’s what I thought.” Johnson thought he was in on a clever plot to welcome a group of nature neophytes into the great outdoors. But the joke was on him. “Here I’m expecting to meet these six African-America women and who shows but Oprah Winfrey and her friend Gayle King,” Johnson said. “I knew this was a project affiliated with her show, but to have Oprah right there in front of me was something else entirely. So yeah I was surprised, surprised in the best possible way.”
Commentary, Diversity, Outdoor Recreation, Outdoor Retailer, Summer / 03.09.2010

[caption id="attachment_3787" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="OR director Kenji Haroutunian (left) walks the show floor with DOI Sec. Ken Salazar"][/caption] After 20 years in the industry I can’t recall a cabinet level executive ever attending the Outdoor Retailer Show. Those with long standing memories may prove me wrong and I’ll stand corrected. But I believe that the address of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to the biannual Outdoor Industry Association breakfast meeting was a truly unique occurrence. His position in the Obama Administration not withstanding, Salazar’s visit to OR is important for other reasons. As a person of Hispanic ancestry and the direct representative of the first African-America president of the United States for the first time in our history, federal policy for the protection of our public land, air, water and natural resources is being guided predominately by people of color. Salazar brought with him a message from the White House that stands not only as a sign of a strong relationship between our industry and the U.S. Government, but it may also serve as a rare opportunity to finally bridge the divide between outdoor recreation and ethnic minorities in our country who fail access it.