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Outdoor Sector DEI Coalition Announces Membership, Advisory & Governance Councils
A collaborative effort is underway within the outdoor industry to develop actions for organizations, recreation destinations, and outdoor enthusiasts on how they can take meaningful steps to attract, embrace, and support inclusion.
Among the initiatives being taken in support of justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion (JEDI/DEI) is development of an educational curriculum on topics such as history of access, marketing and media, recruitment and retention, grants/partnerships, and accountability.
The work, being driven by Together Outdoors, a coalition created within the outdoor industry, also seeks to develop best practices and branding centered around the Together Outdoors logo to show businesses, spaces, and places working on creating safe and welcoming outdoor experiences for all, especially to help increase participation of underrepresented groups in outdoor recreation by creating informed and inclusive organizations and field locations like businesses, campgrounds, marinas and trailheads.
“It is crucial for the outdoor industry to acknowledge the years of labor by BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) and other underrepresented communities who have driven the movement to make the outdoors a more just, equitable, diverse, and inclusive space,” said Gerry Seavo James, coalition lead for Together Outdoors. “Empowered by the leadership, passion, and experiences of our newly formed advisory and governance councils, we strive to build upon those efforts within the industry and greater outdoor community.”
The effort also will develop:Searchable Database: Together Outdoors aims to produce a high-quality searchable database for organizations and individuals who wish to advance their knowledge related to recruiting, retaining, and reactivating outdoor participants, regardless of their level of pre-existing knowledge.Measurement: Collecting and publishing field research to measure the impact of the Together Outdoors education series and collective education network on a coalition member’s organizational practices (e.g. around workforce development, advertising, vendor selection, etc.) and how underrepresented groups experience the outdoors.Improved Field Impacts: Reduced concerns of underrepresented participants that outdoor recreation at certain field locations is unsafe, exclusive, or discriminatory
To accomplish all of this Together Outdoors will work with the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable’s advisory and governance council of established leaders who represent affinity groups, NGOs, public and private-sector organizations, and academic interests.
Together Outdoors on Wednesday announced its advisory and governance councils. These established leaders who represent affinity groups, NGOs, public and private-sector organizations, and academic interests will work with TO as it develops actions for organizations, recreation destinations, and outdoor enthusiasts on how they can take meaningful steps to attract, embrace and support inclusion.
TO also announced the growing coalition now includes over 70 members from across the recreation spectrum from boating, hiking, RVing, off-roading and much, much more.
TO’s advisory council members have deep experience in advancing JEDI/DEI in the outdoor community. They will provide recommendations to the TO team on programming and initiatives, in addition to helping facilitate educational sessions and workshops for the coalition. Members include:Ambreen Tariq, Founder, Brown People CampingBriana Blanchard, Strategic Partnerships Manager, Access FundCrystal Egli, Co-Founder, Inclusive JourneysJahmicah Dawes, Owner, Slim Pickins OutfittersDr. Jose Gonzales, Assistant Professor in Recreation and Tourism, Cal State University-NorthridgeLydia Parker, Founder, Hunters of ColorSyren Nagakyrie, Founder, Disabled HikersYvonne Leow, Founder, Bewilder
TO’s governance council includes leaders in business, NGO, and public-sector organizations related to advancing outdoor recreation in the United States. They will assist ORR with providing direction for TO’s mission and values, program design, communications, fundraising, partnerships, and access. Members include:Bob Ratcliffe, Chief of Conservation and Outdoor Recreation Programs, National Park ServiceDan West, Director of Public Policy, Rivian Danica Carey, Director of Marketing Operations, Seirus InnovationDr. Jose Gonzales, Assistant Professor in Recreation and Tourism, Cal State University-NorthridgeJil Littlejohn Bostick, Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Winnebago Industries,Kevin Williams, Vice President of Marketing, National Marine Manufacturers AssociationMary Mitsos, President and CEO, National Forest FoundationMichal Rosenoer, Government and Community Relations Manager, HipcampMollie Hansen, Chief Marketing Officer, AirstreamRenee Jones, Senior Director of Marketing, THOR Industries
In the coming months, the coalition is also prioritizing the creation of an interactive JEDI/DEI resource library and a symbol for coalition member organizations, destinations and more to use to show their commitment to JEDI/DEI issues and solutions for creating a more safe, welcoming, and inclusive outdoor experience for everyone.
“As a BIPOC-led organization, we understand the strength of community and the need for intersectionality,” said Lydia Parker, executive director of Hunters of Color. “We’re excited to join ‘Together Outdoors’ and participate on the coalition’s advisory council with other outdoor leaders so that we can coalesce our strength and knowledge and share power with all historically excluded people.”
Syren Nagakyrie, founder, Disabled Hikers, noted that “(P)eople with disabilities are 25 percent of the population; when you include people with chronic illnesses, that number increases to over 60 percent. Yet disability is often left out of the conversation. My goal is to elevate the conversation about disability in the outdoors and expand the concept of what accessibility means. Together Outdoors provides opportunities to educate and build more access and inclusion in the outdoor industry.”
“This coalition is a rare and tremendous effort to address the lack of diversity and inclusion in the outdoors at an industry-wide level,” said Yvonne Leow, founder, Bewilder. “I’m honored to represent the voices of beginner campers and backpackers in California, Bewilder’s home base, as we start putting our ideas into action both on the advisory council and on the coalition. Change isn’t going to happen overnight, but this initiative is a critical step in the right discussion.”
This week TO held the first session of a seven-month educational series for coalition members. The first session’s module was, “How We Got Here: Barriers to entry + history of access to outdoor recreation spaces.”
The goal is to equip members with the foundational knowledge to understand and analyze how historic systems of exclusion intersect with current barriers to access, resulting in reduced participation for groups including BIPOC, Disabled, LGBTQ+, different socioeconomic status, immigrants, and others. TO’s other educational sessions include, “Building a Better Team: Recruitment of diverse employees,” “Supporting the Work: Corporate giving + partnerships,” and “Accountability: How to evaluate your progress on DEI measures,” among several others.
Organizations seeking to join TO can navigate to TogetherOutdoors.com and fill out a membership query form. The coalition is focused on helping all interested organizations connect with DEI experts, resources and education.
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