Diversify Outdoors: Year One

DiversifyOutdoors.com began in January 2018 as a coalition of 29 outdoor digital influencers with a combined reach of over 200k on Instagram alone. In that first month, they launched a digital media campaign to promote #diversifyoutdoors which has now been used over 33k on Instagram. They are small business owners, non-profit directors, activists and thought leaders who are harnessing the power of social networks to create an outdoor diversity, equity and inclusion space online and in communities across the U.S.

In July 2018, Diversify Outdoors made the decision to host the Outdoor CEO Diversity Pledge, a grassroots initiative led by California activist Teresa Baker and Yale School of Forestry doctoral candidate Chris Perkins. Since then they’ve used their voices, online and offline, to show that they support grassroots leaders—many of whom are unpaid Womxn of Color—who are doing important work at the ground level to #diversifyoutdoors.

The Outdoor CEO Diversity Pledge

The Outdoor CEO Diversity Pledge launched on Diversify Outdoors in July 2018. The Pledge pairs leading outdoor brands in one-on-one relationships with inclusion advocates to advance representation for people of color across the industry. The Pledge aims to improve representation across staff and executive teams, media and marketing, and athletes/ambassadors in the outdoor industry. By building a relationship of support, empathy and understanding, versus external skepticism and internal stress, The Pledge is moving the outdoor industry towards authentic inclusion. To date, 32 companies and 9 non-profits have signed on to The Pledge.

Brown Folks Fishing

Brown Folks Fishing launched in February 2018 and hosted six fishing events across the US over the last year. Over the past year they built a team of ambassadors with a combined reach of over 30k users on IG. They also collaborated with Orvis, Yakima Racks, BioLite, Buff USA, Yakoda Supply, NW Steelheaders, Get Hooked Foundation, and Oregon Metro Parks. They’re looking forward to launching a Fishing And Conservation fellowship in 2019.

Brown Girls Climb

In 2018, Brown Girls Climb co-hosted Women BOLDer, an event to celebrate womxn in climbing and create a space for all women, with leadership from climbers identifying as trans, queer, non-binary, and Women of Color (WOC). They also hosted the first speaker series to highlight WOC climbers Chelsea Griffie, Emily Taylor.

Brown Girls Climb (BGC) hosted over 12 events to increase education and build community and compensate WOC for their energy and efforts. They continued to grow their online presence with over 14k on Instagram. Their growth and impact were also recognized with articles in the Outdoor Retailer magazine, The North Face catalog, Elevation Outdoors among others.

Additionally, BGC collaborated with the American Mountain Guide Association, the American Alpine Club, and Hey Flash Foxy to create the first ever women’s single pitch instructor course. This first-of-it’s-kind program provided support and housing to all participants, the majority of whom were Women of Color.

In collaboration with partners, they are currently developing an intentional membership to provide self-identified women of color with the skills, techniques, mentorship, and gear they need to experience and advance in climbing!

Lastly, Brothers of Climbing and Brown Girls Climb hosted the second annual Color the Crag Climbing Festival to celebrate diversity in climbing; successfully hosting over 300 climbers and compensating over 10 people of color (POC) instructors and subject matter experts who led clinics, workshops, or provided services to the festival. The year the festival was mentioned in Essence magazine, Climbing Magazine as well as the popular podcast, The Read.

Earthtone Outside MT

The North Face athlete, Vasu Sojitra and several other folx of color created Earthtone Outside MT in December of 2017

Fat Girls Hiking

In 2018, Fat Girls Hiking took to the road to open more chapters across North America. They now have 22 chapters (and counting!) across the US & Canada.  Each chapter hosts events and/or hikes once a month that are accessible, size inclusive with a focus on self care and healing in the outdoors.
Fat Girls Hiking was featured on several podcasts, news articles and the recently released She Explores book.  Lastly, Fat Girls Hiking launched a web series that focuses on people who live life in the margins in the outdoors. Follow their video series on YouTube!

Flash Foxy

In 2018, Flash Foxy held their 3rd Women’s Climbing Festival in Bishop, CA and 2nd Women’s Climbing Festival in Chattanooga, TN. Each festival hosted 350 women and15+ clinics and workshops all led by female guides, athletes and facilitators. In 2019 they will be exanding their programming to add an additional summer event in the New River Gorge and 4 one-day events in gyms across the country. In collaboration with partners, they are currently co-developing inclusive programming for outdoor rock climbing and expect to open this to the public in 2019.

LatinX Hikers

LatinX Hikers was created in mid-August 2017. In their first year, they reached over 6k followers on Instagram and Facebook combined. Their hashtag, #LatinXhikers has been used over 2,100 times. Over the past year, LatinX Hikers led 4 REI sponsored pop-up hikes in 3 cities reaching over 100 attendees. The locations include Durham, NC, Chicago IL, and Atlanta, GA. In 2019 Luz and Adriana are looking forward to hosting 3 more events in the Atlanta area. They are partnering with 3 major outdoor brands (REI, Otterbox & Deuter) that are providing monetary support for their events and product support for their gear bank.

LatinX Hikers was featured in several media pieces in 2018 to include the 2018 REI Summer campaign, Wild Ideas Worth Living - a podcast by Shelby Stanger, and The Outdoor Project - Women in the Wild campaign. They were also featured in an article published by SNEWS.

Melanin Base Camp

Melanin Base Camp, LLC (MBC) is a little media company with a powerful voice, and a major role in normalizing diversity in the outdoors. MBC began as an Instagram account in February 2016 by highlighting people of color in outdoor adventure sports. They have since grown to include an active community of almost 19k on Instagram where their hashtag #melaninbasecamp has been used over 21k times. In November 2017, they launched Melaninbasecamp.com, a popular blog with weekly content ranging from gear reviews to articles on race, gender and the outdoors for an audience of 17k average unique monthly viewers.

Over the past year, Melanin Base Camp has been featured in SELF, Backpacker, Outside Magazine, SNEWS, She Explores, The Read and more. Their founder, Danielle Williams is also the founder of Diversify Outdoors and co-founder of Team Blackstar Skydivers. She’s a disabled Army veteran with 10.5 years of service and an disabled skydiver with over 600 jumps.

OUT There Adventures

In 2018 Out There Adventures (OTA) and it’s program partners facilitated over 1400 hours of outside time for over 100 LGBTQ youth and adults across Washington and California. These events included hosting the tenth annual Earth Gay Seattle, Steven’s Pass Pride weekend and snowshoeing on the PCT. Most notably, OTA and it’s youth program partners facilitated the largest youth programming season in organizational history. OTA and Northwest Youth Corps hosted the second five week summer session of the Washington LGBTQ Teen Conservation Crew where 10 LGBTQ teen and two LGBTQ crew leaders cut brush and built trail at Mount Rainier National Park. Outward Bound California and OTA teamed up for their first LGBTQ teen program collaboration in June featuring eight days of backpacking through Yosemite followed up by six days of urban service in San Francisco, including supporting San Francisco Trans Pride and collecting donations for program scholarships for future LGBTQ program participants.   

Pride Outside and OUT There Adventures hosted the second annual LGBTQ Outdoor Summit. The summit convened 160 conservation and outdoor industry professionals from across the country for a chance to connect with one another and find opportunities to boost representation and inclusion for the LGBTQ community outdoors. It took place October 19th-21st at the NatureBridge campus in Golden Gate, San Francisco. The third annual LGBTQ Outdoor Summit will take place September 26-29 on Ute, Arapaho and Cheyenne Ancestral Land at the Estes Park YMCA in Colorado.

Pride Outside

Pride Outside and OUT There Adventures hosted the second annual LGBTQ Outdoor Summit. The summit convened 160 conservation and outdoor industry professionals from across the country for a chance to connect with one another and find opportunities to boost representation and inclusion for the LGBTQ community outdoors. It took place October 19th-21st at the NatureBridge campus in Golden Gate, San Francisco. The third annual LGBTQ Outdoor Summit will take place September 26-29, 2019 on Ute, Arapaho and Cheyenne Ancestral Land at the Estes Park YMCA in Colorado.

Pride Outside leads hikes, outdoor skills classes, and LGBTQ history walking tours in Washington, DC. We run a monthly jobs email list for LGBTQ professionals. In partnership with the International Ranger Federation we launched a global LGBTQ park ranger network to connect, share information, and support one another. We are working with land management agencies to find opportunities to boost representation and inclusion for the LGBTQ community on public lands.

Queer Nature

Queer Nature is firstly a love story. Since its official co-founding in 2015, Pinar and So Sinopoulos-Lloyd have offered workshops on survival skills, place-based skills and rites of passage all over California, Colorado, Utah, Washington and Oregon. This has included 18 multi-day programs and over 40 day programs. Their social media community has reached over 12,200 followers. Pinar and So have been regularly working in higher education immersions with Colorado College, Naropa University and University of Colorado - Boulder. They are thrilled to announce that they are new adjunct faculty as Queer Nature with a yearlong immersion at Weaving Earth, a non-profit based out of Sebastopol, California. Their higher education curriculum has weaved in somatic psychology, environmental justice and ecopsychology. They have been interviewed for magazines including Audubon, OutFront, The Voice (Outdoor Retailer), The Daily (Outdoor Retailer) as well as podcasts including For The Wild, Broken Boxes and Numinous. Pinar has been a panelist for North Face’s Disruptors Series, SHIFT Conference, Coalition Snow at Outdoor Retailer, PGM One and Naropa University’s The Dharma of Solidarity. Pinar also co-led a backpacking expedition for black, indigenous women of color through Women’s Wilderness Trailblazers program with Brown Girls Climb, Black Women’s Alliance, Latino Outdoors and Native Women’s Wilderness on the steering committee. In collaboration with Wild Diversity and The Venture Out Project, Queer Nature will be co-hosting the inaugural Resilience Outdoor Conference: Decolonizing Outdoor Education for BIPOC & LGBTQ on May 1st-5th, 2019 near Portland, Oregon. They will be keynoting at the Portland Plant Medicine Gathering in November 2019.

Sending In Color

Sending in Color is an initiative to foster an inclusive and diverse community in the growing Chicago & Midwest climbing scene. In 2018, they hosted 12 hangouts in partnership with multiple gyms across the city that draw an average of  30+ people per event. Their meetups seek to introduce climbers of color to each other, encourage POC to try climbing for the first time by offering affordability and easy access to Intro classes. Their initiative was featured in a photo essay at climbing.com were several members were interviewed. Sending in Color was also featured on a short documentary video produced by the Grotto Network which was viewed over 8K on Facebook.  Their Instagram following has also grown to over 1200 followers since they began in November 2017!

Team Blackstar Skydivers

Team Blackstar began in 2014 as an unofficial record jump over Fitzgerald, GA. It’s founding members include six African American skydivers.The club has since grown to include 270+ skydivers of color (and allies) in six different countries. Their goal is to promote diversity in skydiving along with community service. Diversify Outdoors and Melanin Base Camp founder Danielle Williams has been leading the club for the past five years.

Highlights for the past year include the relaunch of teamblackstar.com and volunteering at a Legacy Flight Academy “Eyes Above the Horizon” event in Tuskegee, AL. Team Blackstar member, Brandon Johnson, took actor Will Smith for a skydive over the Palm in Dubai and was featured in an article at travelnoire.com. To learn more or to commission a demo jump for your outdoor event, check out teamblackstar.com or visit instagram.com/teamblackstarskydivers.

The Black Outdoors

Since their founding in 2016, The Black Outdoors has grown to a close-knit community of over 8,500 followers on Instagram who share their love and appreciation for the outdoors. In 2018, they focused on furthering their online presence and launching their website. They also led a hike in New Orleans in conjunction with the Outdoor Journal Club and Remix Ecology, as well as several outings in the Washington DC Metro area. The Black Outdoors ran two successful social media campaigns: 1) #Pioneers - featuring black men and women who blazed trails in various outdoor related areas and 2) #ThriveOutside, discussing the many benefits of spending time outdoors, including physical fitness and mental health. For 2019, their goal is to continue to grow and to partner with local New Orleans and Washington DC programs to increase outdoor participation of inner-city youth.

The Venture Out Project

The Venture Out Project led over 60 day trips and 15 multi-day backpacking adventures in 2018. In addition to trips in New England and in the Pacific Northwest, they launched a cross country hiking tour that drew over 200 participants to Queer Day Hikes in over 20 cities across the US. In 2018, their trips drew over 600 participants from 24 states. Participants ranged in age from 3 (on our queer family campout) to 60+ and broadly represented the LGBTQIA+ community with over 60% of participants identifying as trans or non-binary.

Venture Out Project also launched 3 new activities this year - kayaking, SUP, and Forest Bathing. In response to participant requests, they ran trips specifically for queer women, trans masculine folks, and QTPOC folks. As they look to the future, they celebrated their first instructor training program where over half of the participants were Venture Out Project alums. Eight of their new instructors self-identified as transgender, three as non-binary, two as POC, and three as women.

Venture Out Project also participated in #Hike4Rights, during which they led 30 people up the Appalachian Trail to a rally at the summit of Mt. Greylock, the tallest peak in Massachusetts, in support of a ballot initiative that will retain non-discrimination protections for transgender folks on trails and parks in MA. Backpacker and Sierra Magazines ran feature stories on The Venture Out Project and the Dirtbag Diaries Podcast created an episode about how the Venture Out Project came to be and why their existence matters.

Travel Beyond Convention

Mikah Meyer’s journey to all 417 National Park Service sites is scheduled to end 2018 with 387 parks completed, including all of Alaska’s 23 sites reached over 77 days in summer. Mikah and his LGBT advocacy work were featured in over 300 media pieces worldwide during this time, including The Today Show with Jenna Bush, on NPR stations in Alaska, Colorado, and South Dakota, and everywhere from SNEWS to New Zealand’s largest news source. A Meltwater analysis of this project’s media attention from May 10, 2017 to May 10, 2018 revealed the print media Advertising Value Equivalency as $3,127,102.00; not including social media impressions, which Mikah grew to 72,000 followers. Mikah expanded his speaking profile, headlining 68 events while sharing a message of inclusion, and signed with The College Agency to reach more university audiences across the United States. On his blog, Mikah created the 2018 Gear Guide for LGBT Pride and will update it annually with LGBT-tied products in the outdoor industry. His 3-year journey to all the parks will reach its finale on April 29, 2019 at the Lincoln Memorial.

Unlikely Hikers

Unlikely Hikers reached nearly 50k followers on Instagram in 2018 and led more than 30 hikes in Oregon, Washington, California, Georgia, D.C., Virginia, Maryland with over 600 attendees. The #UnlikelyHiker(s) hashtags have been used over 30k times.

Unlikely Hikers continued with their partnership with REI that started in 2017 and also welcomed partnerships with Merrell & Next Adventure, as well as some sponsorship from Otterbox, Granite Gear and Gossamer Gear. Jenny Bruso, founder of Unlikely Hikers, wrote or was interviewed for articles and podcasts in Outside Magazine, RANGE, the REI Co-Op Blog, She Explores, The Outdoor Project, Bitch Magazine, High Country News, Huffington Post, Mic and more. She was also interviewed on 5 news and tv shows including Live Wire Radio and Oregon Field Guide.

JennyBruso.com, the hub for all things Unlikely Hikers and Jenny Bruso, received more than 30k visitors.