Controversy rocked the outdoor industry last week at the conclusion of the Outdoor Retailer Snow Show when Camber Outdoors presented a “first of its kind” diversity equity pledge, which was not the first of its kind. Theresa Baker has been asking outdoor brand CEOs to sign a Diversity Pledge since last summer.

In 2015, Camber released their CEO Pledge, which asked CEOs to commit to gender equality. Baker’s Diversity Pledge went a step further, asking CEOs to pair with “inclusion advocates to advance representation for people of color across the industry.”

At the 2019 Outdoor Retailer show, Camber, a national nonprofit “dedicated to achieving equality for all women in the outdoors, from the backcountry to the boardroom” presented a new version of their pledge to improve “DEI” (diversity, equity, and inclusion) within outdoor organizations, before inviting 60 CEOS of outdoor companies to sign it. This new pledge is the one they claimed was the “first of its kind.” The panel, the organization, and the CEOs were all mostly white.

Industry professionals, influencers, and activists have taken to social media to express frustration with the glaring discrepancy between the perceived intentions of this “equity pledge” and the exclusionary reality.

Camber Outdoors has since issued a public apology, and the outdoor community continues to grapple with how this event highlights the many ways that marginalized communities continue to be silenced and overshadowed in these important conversations.

It should be noted that Camber Outdoors is a long-time supporter of The Dyrt, a woman-led company. We greatly appreciate their efforts to elevate female founders, including our own, but also believe this conversation is too important to ignore. 

Now seems like a good time to highlight the individuals and communities that are, in fact, leading the charge for more diversity, equity, and inclusion in the outdoors. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but we’d like to make it so. If you know of a community that should be added, please email Britany@TheDyrt.com.

Diversify Outdoors

This coalition of social media influencers, including bloggers, activists, athletes, and entrepreneurs, is promoting diversity and equity in the outdoors through the Outdoor CEO Diversity Pledge and by connecting the many people who are fighting for more inclusion. Diversify Outdoors has brought individuals together, with a combined reach of over 154,000 on Instagram, “to grow our community and provide resources to others seeking information, allyship, and collaboration opportunities.” Through their hashtag #DiversifyOutdoors, various communities are increasing the visibility of all types of people who are getting outside.

Natives Outdoors

 

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Founded by Len Necefer, Natives Outdoors is a B-Corp representing and advocating for increased visibility of indigenous people in the outdoors. Their “mission-driven” products include hats, shirts, and pins that express cultural empowerment rather than appropriation. Natives Outdoors donates 2% of their sales to other native-run nonprofits and they promote the talent of native artists and athletes through their products. When he isn’t researching natural resource policy and recreation near tribal lands through the University of Arizona, Necefer, a member of the Navajo Nation, consults with outdoor companies on the intersection of public lands, tribes, and recreation.

Melanin Basecamp

 

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Founder Danielle Williams started Melanin Basecamp in 2016 to encourage more minority participation in adventure sports, but soon discovered they were already out there doing all of these things—they just weren’t being shown in outdoor media. The mission changed to promote representation—a powerful driver for increased participation and a sense of inclusion. Melanin Basecamp’s Instagram account features climbers, surfers, hikers, and more, increasing visibility of POC and LGBTQ+ people in these outdoor spaces.

Indigenous Women Hike 

 

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Jolie Varela, a member of the Tule River Yokut and Paiute Nations, founded Indigenous Women Hike in 2017 and led their first hike through the 210-mile-long Nuumu Poyo in 2018. Bitch Media named Varela among the “Bitch 50” of 2018, which recognizes “the most impactful creators, artists, and activists in pop culture whose imaginations extend beyond normalizing and affirming the same mainstream messages.” Indigenous Women Hike is a community of indigenous women finding healing through their connection to the land and hiking. You can support Indigenous Women Hike by purchasing one of their “Rethink the Wild” shirts, featuring a quote from John Muir that serves to highlight his troubling perception of indigenous people.

Queer Nature

 

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A queer-run nature education program, Queer Nature connects LGBTQ2+ communities with ecological and plant-based skills, which are often not made available to marginalized groups who could benefit from them. Their mission includes going, “beyond recreation in nature to deep and creative engagement with the natural world to build inter-species alliances and an enduring sense of belonging.” Queer Nature collaborates with Women’s Wilderness to offer “skill shares” in which people can offer and take classes in a queer-safe space ranging from “Scouting, Awareness, and Camouflage” to pine needle basketry.

Fat Girls Hiking

 

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While most outdoor media showcases people who are thin and fit, Fat Girls Hiking is showing the world that all body types can love and embrace the outdoors. Fat Girls Hiking was founded by Summer Michaud-Skog in Portland, Oregon in 2015. The body-positive community has chapters in 22 cities, facilitating hikes for all sizes and abilities with an intersectional-feminist approach.

Brown People Camping

 

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Ambreen Tariq founded Brown People Camping the same year the National Park Service celebrated its centennial. Through her own experiences as a Muslim, South-Asian American and through the stories of fellow brown people who love the outdoors, Tariq uses her platform on Instagram to promote diversity and inclusion in the outdoor industry. Tariq has used her platform to collaborate with outdoor brands and government agencies to promote diversity, as well.

Color Outside

 

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Nailah Blades Wylie reconnects with herself by connecting with nature. She founded Color Outside to offer safe spaces for fellow women of color to have those experiences, too. Color Outside has grown into a community of women of color who gather for meetups, retreats, and online.

Outdoors for All 

 

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Outdoors for All provides adaptive and therapeutic outdoor recreation opportunities for children and adults with disabilities. In 1978, Outdoors for All got started with downhill skiing for 15 children with disabilities. The following year they became an established 501 (c) (3) nonprofit, and today they provide programs for skiing, biking, hiking, kayaking, climbing, and more, thanks to the help of more than 700 volunteers.

Native Women’s Wilderness

 

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Native Women’s Wilderness was founded to bring native women together in the outdoors, encouraging them to connect, share, and support one another. They work to promote women of color in advertising of outdoor brands and to educate people about Ancestral Lands and their People. The founder, Jaylyn, writes on the Native Women’s Wilderness blog: “As a child all I really wanted was to climb mountains, but without any ethnical representation in the OR world, I grew up with the idea only white women could climb mountains. I then began scaling those cliffs in my back yard, I became a guide, I became a mountain bike race coordinator, I then became the brown woman who climbed mountains.”

Pattie Gonia

 

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Pattie is relatively new to the Outdoor Instagram scene but is already making waves down the runway of nature with messages of inclusion and self-love. The drag persona of Wyn, “Pattie Gonia” isn’t afraid to wear high heels in nature while offering support and representation of LGBTQ+ people in the outdoors. Camber Outdoors could learn something from Pattie, in a caption that offers credit to the many change makers who came first:

“Your energy, your love, you being here, it matters to me. it keeps me creating. it keeps me having fun and the world just needs a smidge more fun, right? all this to say, i am figuring this out as i go. i am no expert. let me repeat- no expert at the outdoor world or in queen culture. I have mad respect for both worlds and the people who have been in the game for so long, paid their dues and are fighting the good fight in so many difference making ways. those people are the real difference makers. those people inspire me and they inspire pattie.” 

Britany Robinson

Britany Robinson

Britany is the Managing Editor of The Dyrt. She's been a writer ever since she can remember, and her first literary accomplishment was having a poem about a panda published when she was eight. The anthology was definitely a scam to get her parents to buy a bunch of anthologies, but she's still pretty proud of her panda poem. When she's not at her computer, she's (hopefully) outside, hiking or camping with her dog.