The outdoors space has been starkly divided along racial and socioeconomic lines. However, a growing number of organizations offer in-person and online leadership training to empower all communities to help bridge this gap.
Here are seven programs whose innovative efforts are helping to diversify nature and outdoor spaces, and reconnect BIPOC communities with the natural world. These events and leadership training are about learning new skills and fostering a sense of belonging, safety, and connection with the outdoors.
Latino Outdoors Events And Resources
Latino Outdoors has helped to connect Latinx communities with nature and outdoor experiences. The organization hosts nationwide events and has online resources that equip individuals with the skills and knowledge to lead outdoor activities in their communities. These programs are central to Latino Outdoors' mission to empower Latinx individuals to take on outdoor recreation, environmental education, and conservation leadership roles.
The Outdoor Afro Leadership Team
Outdoor Afro's Leadership Team program is a pivotal initiative aimed at forging a deeper relationship between the Black community and nature. OALT attendees learn how to plan trips, explore the health benefits of nature, study conservation ethics and risk management, and practice compelling social media storytelling. OALT is a testament to Outdoor Afro's commitment to bridging the Nature Gap and fostering a sense of belonging in the outdoors for all.
Soul River Deployments
Soul River, founded by U.S. Navy veteran Chad Brown, is an organization that unites inner-city youth and veterans through transformative outdoor experiences called "deployments." The organization aims to connect these groups to public lands, wild rivers, and fresh waters, fostering leadership and advocacy for the natural world. Deployments target wild places under threat, allowing participants to observe, learn, and ultimately become conservation advocacy leaders for the future.
Outdoor CEO Diversity Pledge
The Outdoor CEO Diversity Pledge, maintained by the In Solidarity organization, is a commitment made by leaders in the outdoor industry to foster diversity and inclusion within their organizations, whether businesses or nonprofits. The pledge encourages CEOs to take actionable steps toward ensuring that their organizations reflect the true diversity of those who love and engage with the outdoors. Companies and nonprofits that align themselves with In Solidarity have access to speaking engagements, seminars, and other training by outdoor industry experts in DEI.
Melanin Basecamp Consultation
Melanin Base Camp is a platform that promotes diversity in outdoor adventure sports. It allows Black, Latinx, Asian, Indigenous, and Queer people of color to share their experiences and inspire others. MBC offers speakers and ongoing consultation and training services. Melanin Base Camp also helps to bridge the Nature Gap and foster a more inclusive outdoor community through a host of online resources.
Outdoor Industry Association Events
The Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) is a key player in the effort to diversify outdoor spaces. They organize several certification programs that bring together business leaders, climate experts, policymakers, and outdoor enthusiasts. They also host events focusing on sustainable economic growth, climate positivity, and increasing access to the outdoors for everyone. Through these initiatives, the OIA is fostering a more inclusive outdoor industry and breaking down barriers to outdoor participation.
Brown People Camping: Social Storytelling
Brown People Camping, the brainchild and passion project of Ambreen Tariq, uses the power of storytelling to promote diversity and social justice in outdoor spaces. It is not a traditional training program or event platform; it leverages social media to share the personal narratives and experiences of diverse individuals in outdoor settings. These stories serve as a platform for underrepresented voices and resources for people eager to learn about closing the Nature Gap.