Reporting on the Business, Art & Culture of the Sustainable Active Lifestyle
Greening Youth ~ A Conversation With DEI Subject Matter Experts
Hey everybody it’s January 2020 Happy New Year! In fact happy new decade for the 21st century. It’s kind of cool to be living in the future, a time I tried to imagine as a kid growing up in the 80s. But here we are. It’s amazing to see how far we’ve come. And still what a long way yet to go.
If you’ve been following my work on this podcast or in a few magazine articles I’ve written over last few years you know that I put a lot of effort into the topic of diversity, equity and inclusion or DEI in the world outdoor recreation and environmental conservation. Throughout the last decade I’ve reported a lot about the progress that the outdoor industry has made in creating positive cultural and professional environments for people of color, the differently abled, those who identify as LGBTQ and other socially marginalized communities. But there is still so much that outdoor retailers, manufactures and non profit organizations can do to create spaces where everyone can not only be made to feel welcome, but encouraged to thrive, succeed and excel. I spent a bit of time throughout 2019 exploring how various institutions in the outdoor industry are rethinking the various pathways they can take to get a wide variety of different people outside.
So I made stop in Atlanta Georgia to speak to a team of subject matter experts who are leading the way toward making the outdoors more diverse, equitable and inclusive.
Angelou Ezeilo is the founder and CEO of the Greening Youth Foundation.
I think the challenge with a lot of these retailers are trying to figure out how to integrate, you know, the other right into what they’re doing without it being so freakin awkward. So it shows that we have still a long way to go.
For more than 10 years the Greening Youth Foundation has worked with Governmental Agencies like the National Park Service, U.S.D.A Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management to place Black, Hispanic and Native American young people in paid professional internships. Working now with private companies like The North Face and Patagonia GYF is trying to expand the diversity of under represented segments of the population in the outdoor industry. In a very candid conversation with members of her staff at their offices in Atlanta, Ezeilo explains the many challenges we face in moving forward the work of DEI. As you can imagine it can be little awkward.
It’s important to understand that the work of DEI is not a philanthropic enterprise. Research shows that industries and workplaces that are racially and culturally diverse are much more innovative, socially relevant, creative and productive. Having a base of employees and managers that better reflect the emerging demographics of the communities they serve will assure an organizations long-term success and prosperity well into the future.
One Tough Mother ~ Remembering Columbia’s Gert Boyle
Early in November Columbia Sportswear matriarch and outdoor industry icon Gert Boyle passed away. She was 95. Having fled Nazi Germany with her family in advance of World War II Gert’s father started the Portland, Oregon-based company that today is worth billions. Throughout her long career Gert cultivated an image as a fierce business woman, but that tough persona was belied by a delightful personality and a generous spirit.
Way back in 2006 I had the great pleasure chatting Gert at the Outdoor Retailer Show in an interview for the podcast SNEWS Live. In this flash back edition we remember “One Tough Mother“. Gert Boyle was one of the truly great original leaders of the Outdoor Industry and her enduring legacy of tenacity and courage will inspire us all for decades yet to come.
Our music in this episode comes courtesy of Artlist featuring original tracks by Polaris Rose and Ziv Moran.
The Joy Trip Project is made possible thanks to our partners American Rivers, The National Forest Foundation and Patagonia.
Thanks for listening, but you know I want to hear from you. So please drop me a note with your questions comments and criticisms to firstname.lastname@example.org. For now go be joyful and until next time, take care!
A Conversation with Author Eddy Harris
Very early in my career, way back in the 90’s I received the gift of a book, South of Haunted Dreams by Eddy Harris. As a young Black man venture out into a professional environment that was mostly white I took great comfort in this remarkable story of a person with a background similar to my own who was successfully leading a life of travel and adventure. In his book, Harris recounts his experiences of making his way through the Southern United States on motorcycle while enjoying occasional stops on trout streams to do a little fly-fishing. Though concerned that he might subjected to the mistreatment of racism Harris said his ability to navigate through places that are unfamiliar or even a bit frightening hinges upon his willingness to be vulnerable and receptive to the kindness of complete strangers. As writer myself I ask him, is that also a way to be an effective storyteller?
“I never actually thought of it that way. But it’s something that I do as a literary device. I’m a traveler. I’ve been a traveler since I was 16 years old. The way I travel is not organized. I have no plan when I go someplace. Whatever happens happens,” Harris told me in an interview. “When I meet people and they invite me in for coffee or drinks or dinner, I almost never say no. I’m receptive to generosity, and I just put myself out there. I’ve discovered that that if you want people’s stories, you make yourself available to them and they will in fact tell you’re their stories.”
believe that in many ways Harris’s attitude toward travel and to how find one’s place in the world directly influenced my own. Over the years that followed after reading that first book I went on read his other titles that include Mississippi Solo about his adventures paddling a canoe down the Mississippi River and Native Stranger that details a trip he made through the continent of Africa. But it was in article that he wrote for Outside Magazine 1997 on the disparities among people color as active participants in outdoor recreation that really got my attention. It was through the work of Eddy Harris that I first began to explore the divisions of diversity, equity and inclusion that I call “The Adventure Gap”. Now more than 20 years later I have a wonderful opportunity to learn from one of my favorite literary heroes.
In 2018 I had the great pleasure of hosting a visit with Eddy Harris at the University of Wisconsin Madison. As adjunct faculty at the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies it was my honor to speak with him as a guest interviewer on the Edge Effects Podcast.
After 30 years of reading the work of Eddy Harris as a fan I now count him among my friends. It’s that same spirit of humility and vulnerability that makes him such an endearing person and very compelling writer. You can find more of his work online at Eddyharris.com.
Thanks again to my colleagues at the University of Wisconsin Department of History podcasta href="https://edgeeffects.
Hike It Baby! ~ A Conversation With Founder Shanti Hodges
Wherever you are in the world I hope you had an amazing summer. I know I did. Over the last several months I’ve been on the road collecting stories for a broad new initiative to explore how people find their way into the outdoors. With grant funding from my partners at the nonprofits American Rivers and the National Forest Foundation along with Patagonia I made stops in the states of Georgia and Oregon to trace the routes of the great rivers that run through their biggest cities. From the Chattahoochee National Forest to Atlanta and the Willamette National Forest to Portland I went searching a direct connection between people in these urban centers and wilderness areas on Federally protected public land about 120 miles away. It didn’t take long for me to realize that for many folks live in cities nature is closer than they think and with just a little bit of help they can find their own pathway to the outdoors.
Along this journey I connected with an amazing organization based in the city of Portland called Hike It Baby. Created by my friend and colleague Shanti Hodges Hike It Baby connects families with children to wonderful outdoor experiences on short walks along easily accessible trails in cities across America and more than a few foreign countries. Like any great invention Shanti says the mother of her idea was necessity.
“I just wanted to figure out a way to find people to get outside with. So I initially just built a website a Facebook group and a newsletter,” she said in an interview. “I went on looking for hiking groups in Portland with babies and I found nothing.“
Within a few weeks Shanti added about one hundred people to her newsletter list. She got texts every day wanting to know when she was hiking next.
“I was leading four or five hikes a week and hundreds of people were texting me and calling me and Facebooking me. And then within a year we had a thousand and then people started writing me around the country,” she said. “They started seeing pictures and asking how are you getting out with these groups of people to these amazing hikes? People started writing me and telling me they were lonely and they were looking for friends and could they start a group in their town. I’d pay to send them business cards. I’d have business cards made so they could hand them out so people could find the website, find the hikes and we built a little calendar and it just exploded!”
Hike It Baby now has members numbering in the tens of thousands. And with hundreds of ambassadors around the world this remarkable organization brings families and children into the outdoors to become not only nature enthusiasts but also environmental stewards. There are Hike It Baby branches located in cities everywhere. If you can’t find one near you, maybe you can start one. If you want to learn more about how you can get involved just visit them online at hikeitbaby.org.
New music this week by Michael Shynes and a href="https://artlist.
Pattie Gonia ~ Queen of the Great Outdoors
Just a few days before the 2019 Outdoor Retailer Snow Show in Denver I got my reporting assignments. Among the various topics I was tasked to report on was a human interest profile on a young man attending OR for the first time. Wyn Wiley is a professional photographer from Lincoln, Nebraska. He’s also known as the drag queen Pattie Gonia.
Photo courtesy Wyn Wiley
I’ll be honest I’ve never interviewed a drag queen before and I have to say that I was a little nervous. I was more than a bit concerned about mixing up my male/female pronouns and appearing insensitive or even impolite. My goal in this interview was to create a safe space where Wiley could tell me all about his alter ego and share her story.
Photo courtesy Wyn Wiley
Coming on the scene only a few months ago Pattie Gonia is an Internet sensation, with more than 117,000 followers on Instagram. In an industry that has more than its fair share of toxic masculinity this leggy dame in platform heels and trekking poles may just be the joyful expression of wilderness the business of outdoor retail desperately needs.
Photo courtesy Wyn Wiley
In an interview last year Elyse Rylander, founder and executive director of Out There Adventures, an LGBTQ youth engagement organization, said something I will always remember. “There is nothing straight in nature.” The outdoors is place where everyone is free to be themselves. Diversity is a sign of strength any natural environment. So get out there and find the best expression of who you really are. Look for Wiley’s photographs and videos at instagram.com/pattiegonia.
Photo by Louisa Albanese
This edition of the podcast features music by the fabulous Katrina Stone provided by Artlist.
The Joy Trip Project is made possible thanks to the partnership of Specialty News also known as SNEWS, the outdoor industry online trade magazine. You’ll find my text profile with pictures of Wyn Wiley as Pattie Gonia at SNEWSNET.com.
Thanks for listening! But as always I want to hear from you so please drop me a note with your questions comments and criticisms to email@example.com. Or better yet subscribe to the feed on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher or wherever most fine podcast platforms can be found. There you can leave a message or a write review, but most of all don’t forget to tell your friends. Now go be joyful. And until next time. Take care!
The Pledge ~ A promise of DE&I in the Outdoor Industry
On Friday the Trump administration signed legislation to reopen the federal government. For many of us, an end to the longest government shutdown in U.S. history couldn’t have come soon enough. The announcement arrived just in time for the 2019 Outdoor Retailer Snow Show that’s starting this week in Denver Colorado. Tens of thousands of federal employees in service of environmental protection can now get back to doing their very important work. And those of us in the business of outdoor recreation can continue our efforts to make our public lands more accessible to a broader cross section of the American public.
That kind of reminded me of a story I produced over the summer that explores an ongoing initiative to bring more people of color into the outdoor industry. So with OR coming up this week I thought we might take a look back at “the Pledge”.
The Pledge creator Teresa Baker (right) with active lifestyle ambassador Mirna Velario
For people in business of adventure sports the Outdoor Retailer Show is a really big deal. There you’ll find aisle after aisle of high-tech backpacks, tents, sleeping bags, hiking boots, GPS devices, tasty trail snacks and headlamps. To the outdoor professional it’s pretty much kids…meet candy store! But if you take a look around you’ll also see a lot rugged men with Nordic features, full beards and plaid shirts. These guys kind of embody what you imagine when you think “outdoorsman”.Through most of it existence, the outdoor industry has been…well…pretty white. Not many companies at OR that deal in outdoor gear have many employees who are Black, Latino, Asian or Native American. Only a few can claim a senior executive, owner or board member who is a person of color. But at the 2018 Summer Market Mario Stanley, a rock climbing instructor from Dallas, Texas said this year he noticed something different.
Rock Climbing instructor Mario Stanley (left)
Stanley>>Ah…the beautiful wave of brown walking around. I think that’s probably the one thing I notice the most. And then I’ve also noticed that more people are engaging.
JEM>>Not only were there more people of color at OR this year, Stanley, who’s Black, said there is more conversation around issues of race and what the industry can do to improve its diversity.
Stanley>>The dialect has changed and they are allowing us to talk or asking us what are we doing for the greater POC community as a whole. And I think the biggest thing that I noticed this year was people are actually asking, “What are we doing?”
JEM>>Research conducted by the Outdoor Industry Association, a trade group, indicates that people of color or POCs participate in outdoor recreation at rates lower than their white counterparts. In order to grow the market as well as the number of people overall who will help to protect the natural environment there is a concerted effort to bring more black and brown folks into the outdoor industry. Teresa Baker, an advocate for environmental justice, was at OR to promote an initiative she calls The Pledge
Baker>>The pledge is a commitment that we are asking the owners of outdoor brands and retailers to commit to the work of diversity, racial diversity in the outdoors.
JEM>>Through the Pledge, kind of a contract, Baker wants company executives to not only hire more people of color, but to create marketing and outreach strategies that appeal to a broader cross section of the American public. She’s not just interested in helping companies sell more products, but rather she hopes to encourage more people to care about the out...
Customer ReviewsSee All