Positive Steps to Take

The Outdoors for Everyone

Ranger Shelton Johnson Buffalo Soldier

As the Covid-19 pandemic gripped the world in March, we joined with local agencies to organize around the outdoors as essential for health and well-being. We’re passionate about nature and believe it’s important for everyone to be able to access and enjoy safely, and equally. We’re sharing some of our starting points for becoming stronger allies for diversity and equality outdoors.

LISTEN: Yosemite Dispatch

Listen to ”A Buffalo Soldier Speaks.” Buffalo Soldiers were among the first to care for and protect our national parks. This podcast is a series of short (4- to- 13 minute) reflective and interpretive vignettes, featuring Yosemite National Park Ranger Shelton Johnson (pictured) as Sergeant Elizy Boman, who was dispatched to Yosemite National Park from 1903 to 1904. The vividly narrated episodes of Sergeant Boman’s experiences capture themes of nature, spirituality, courage, climate, power, and racial discrimination. {You can listen to some of these episodes on this page, but for all of the episodes, download A Buffalo Soldier Speaks wherever you get your podcasts.} You can follow Ranger Shelton Johnson on Instagram @yosemite_shelton.

JOIN: Weekend Sherpa

Turtle Rock, Ring Mountain, Marin

Calling adventurers! If you are a California-based outdoors enthusiast who likes to take photos and/or short videos on your adventures, and you are part of the BIPOC community, we invite you to share your stories and pitches with us so that we can feature you in Weekend Sherpa. We also have freelance outdoors projects we are hiring for, specifically in the San Jose/South Bay region and in Southern California. The coronavirus had the outdoors shut down for several weeks, but it’s back, and we’re excited for some positive steps forward. We invite you to join us. Email us at adventure @ weekendsherpa.com

PARTICIPATE: Black Birders Week

Black Birders Week

May 31 to June 5 is the inaugural #BlackBirdersWeek, dedicated to visibility, awareness, and dialogue. Explore the hashtags on social media, as well as the upcoming subjects, including the livestream discussions. Allies are invited to discover and share posts to support the message that outdoor recreation is for everyone. The movement also highlights black scientists, scholars, and everyday nature enthusiasts.

Update: Last week we highlighted the inaugural #blackbirdersweek, a movement to increase visibility of Black birders and outdoors enthusiasts, and to raise awareness of the Black experience outdoors, too often filled with fear and anxiety due to racism. We joined the two live-stream discussions hosted by the National Audubon Society during Black Birders Week, featuring Black birders and nature lovers. Black Birders Week is a movement that we want to see continue, and Weekend Sherpa will be reaching out to find out how we can support a local chapter here in California. Learn more about the Black Birders Week movement: #blackbirdersweek.

Related social media follows we highly recommend: @blackafinstem, @bellzisbirding, @rhi_kirton, @naturallywild_, @hood_naturalist, @ldpharr, @tykee_james, @jasonwardny, @beaniejean, @ranger_bri, @arcticmarine.justine.

We also have a book recommendation, one that we ordering from our local bookstore after learning about it during the live-streams, “The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature” by J. Drew Lanham.

DISCOVER & DONATE: The Outdoors for Everyone

nonprofit youth outdoors

There are many amazing local nonprofits aimed to get youth from all backgrounds outdoors. Oakland based Youth Outside promotes the crucial link between outdoor access for kids to building the next generation of environmental stewards. The Sierra Club’s Angeles ICO has programs for urban youth and underserved individuals to gain greater access to the outdoors in Southern California. Bay Area Wilderness Training leads trips all over the state, from isolated beaches to ancient redwoods. Their aim is to create equitable access to outdoor experiences for youth of color and low-income youth. These are just a few among many excellent outdoors programs and initiatives in California to consider making a donation to.

ADVOCATE: Nature Is Necessary

beach sunset kids

Dr. Nooshin Razani has been advocating passionately the last few months about the importance of getting outdoors during the Covid-19 crisis. She founded the Center for Nature and Health based at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in Oakland. The Center is focused on nature and health, including incorporating nature into clinical care, and expressing the healing power of the outdoors. The center is also active in pursuing ways to improve access to the outdoors for all.

TIP: You can hear Dr. Nooshin Razani discuss the outdoors and health in this NPR/KQED podcast from several weeks ago. Weekend Sherpa co-founder, Brad Day, also participated in this conversation, along with Andrea Mackenzie, general manager for Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority, and Jose Gonzalez, founder of Latino Outdoors.

Top photo by Dudley Edmondson.

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