Outdoors for all?
The outdoors is for all. This is a common refrain that should be absolutely true, but sadly, isn't always the case. There can be no outdoors for all while racism and other forms of discrimination exist.
We as a species are part of nature. We depend on nature for pretty much everything in our lives - from the food we eat to the places we live. Spending time in nature and the outdoors through hiking, running, climbing and every other activity it offers are powerful tools in managing our physical and mental health. The outdoors is the place where we can feel truly connected to nature - vital experiences in becoming inspired to protect it for future generations.
But how can everyone feel the benefits of the outdoors if it isn't welcoming to all? It breaks my heart to think that the beautiful places in the world where I find solace, meaning and feel the most alive are not so welcoming to all.
I can talk about my experiences as a woman in the outdoors. I can chat about things like dealing with your period while you're hiking and camping, going on adventures as a solo female, or being made to feel like you don't know what you are doing. I want to share my joy for the outdoors with everyone and inspire more people to get out there. But there are so many people's experiences I can't speak for or begin to understand, who have just as much a right to enjoy the outdoors as everyone else.
We can all listen, learn and act. I urge you to follow the #DiversifyOutdoors hashtag on Instagram to open your eyes to those in the outdoors who we need to hear. There are books out there we should read - The Adventure Gap by James Edward Mills chronicles the first all-African American summit attempt on Denali, along with the accomplishments of and under representation of minority populations in the outdoors in the USA. We need to hold outdoor brands accountable and buy from those doing the work in helping to make the outdoors more inclusive and welcoming to all. There are brilliant individuals and groups out there who we should support, follow and amplify: Black Girls Hike, The Hillwalking Hijabi and Unlikely Hikers just to name a few (this is by no means an extensive list!).
This is just the beginning. Everyone on this planet has the right to enjoy the outdoors. Let's start to do the work so everyone feels welcome to do just that.