A More Inclusive Outdoors: How You Can Help
Be A Part Of Breaking Trail
As a company, we’re Breaking Trail on the approach to a more inclusive outdoors by supporting organizations that improve access to the outdoors for underrepresented communities. Yet, we also wondered—what can we do as individuals? We sat down with our Trailbreakers—the outdoor advocates we partner with—for some ideas. Read on to see the four simple steps you can take to make the outdoors more inclusive and accessible to all.
The first step is self-reflection. “Start the work internally first,” Juju Milay of Colour The Trails recommends. “We all have privileges. We need to check in with our bias, open our hearts and eyes to some of the barriers others may face that we individually may not.”
During this process of self-reflection, José Gonzaléz with Latino Outdoors suggests posing some questions to yourself: “What might we be doing that keeps people with marginalized identities from being seen, heard, and valued—that could make someone feel like they don’t belong?” José also encourages us to consider, “What power do we continue to hold and protect? Can we share and shift power?”
Eliot Jackson, Co-founder of Grow Cycling Foundation, recommends calling upon past experiences outside. “Think back to your first outdoor adventure. Think about how much you didn’t know, how many questions you had, how little of the community you knew,” Eliot advises. “We sometimes forget what it was like to be new and that all these tiny interactions give us the chance to be the reason that someone decided to pursue an outdoor activity.”
The next thing our Trailbreakers recommend is to learn about experiences that don’t match your own, and how different people are affected. This isn’t (and shouldn’t be) a simple task. “Instead of brushing off the subject, take the time to read and research,” Juju says. “I know it’s a lot of work, but nothing worth investing in is easy.” She recommends starting by reading books like James Edward Mills’ The Adventure Gap: Changing the Faces of the Outdoors, and Black Faces, White Spaces by Carolyn Finney.
Acknowledge and appreciate the ancestral lands you recreate upon. Jaylyn Gough of Native Women’s Wilderness says, “If more people would learn about the cultures and traditions that non-white people have, I think there would be massive changes and healing.”
“I believe community starts with an invitation, by us inviting others,” Juju says. These invitations are especially important for diversifying the outdoors by directly welcoming underrepresented individuals to get out there with you. Ron Griswell of HBCUs Outside gave a great example: “If you’re going to a National Park this weekend and you know your neighbor has never been to one, invite them to join. It takes one small action to create a safe and welcoming space for others.” Juju adds that the invitation needs to include consideration for “their safety and wellbeing.”
Eliot also encourages acceptance toward the many ways to get outside: “Being too quick to tell people the ‘right’ way to do things means we miss the amazing opportunity to expand our definition of what ‘right’ is.” For instance, when it comes to the bike world he says “we can celebrate the World Cup Downhill racer, the fixie hipster, and the kid swerving on their back wheel all at the same time. Each one of those people is a successful cyclist and shouldn’t be discounted just because they use the bike in a certain way.”
According to Juju, everyone has their own strengths and resources to offer. If you can, “financially support BIPOC- or Queer-lead organizations,” donate extra gear, or if you’re a guide or other outdoor professional, volunteer your services.
4) Respect & Support
Treating all folx kindly goes a long way. “My one ask is that you treat everyone you meet with the respect, patience, and openness that you want,” Eliot implores. Kareemah Batts of the Adaptive Climbing Group adds, “Treat all people like people—with the same consideration and access you give and want for yourself.”
Creating a more inclusive outdoor space takes all of us, and we’re fully committed—are you ready to join us? Follow along this spring and summer as we take a deep dive into the work each of these advocates is doing with their organizations to make the outdoors a safe and welcoming place for everyone.
“See where you have room to help someone,” Juju recommends. From financial donations and volunteer work to something as small as following these Trailbreakers on Instagram, we can all help be the change the backcountry needs.
Meet the Trailbreakers weighing in below, and read more about them HERE.