Every one of us has experienced hardship this year. Racial injustice. The pandemic. The recession. Having to fight for everything we care about every day. Going outside has been a survival strategy for us. Our emotional refuge. A spiritual ground. A safe place to breathe. Yet, there is injustice in even that simple pleasure. Race, gender, socioeconomics all strongly influence who has the opportunity to walk on a trail, take a bike ride or float down a river.
Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) shoulder the greatest weight of this moment. Black Americans are dying at a rate of 2.5 that of White Americans, are more likely to be on the front lines and more likely to be rendered unemployed by the recession. At the same time, BIPOC folks are underrepresented and culturally excluded from outdoor recreation.
Women’s Wilderness is devoting our end-of-year fundraising campaign to raise money to provide free outdoor experiences for BIPOC community members. It’s imperative that we actively grow and strengthen our programs and take better care of our BIPOC constituents. We want to make good on our commitment to providing women of color with safe space to learn and develop outdoor skills, but also, crucially, a time to connect, transform, and heal with each other in nature.
We’re calling this effort “All Out.” We invite you to be part of what we believe is an essential and overdue investment in women* of color in the outdoor space.
This has been a year of reckoning. For our country, for our communities, for ourselves. We’re proud to be a pioneer of gender justice in the outdoor education industry, and we will continue to forge pathways for more girls, women, trans, and non-binary people to have meaningful experiences with each other in the outdoors.
- Continue Trailblazers, our BIPOC affinity group, programming
- Increase and improve BIPOC programming
- Keep programs at low or no cost for BIPOC participants
- Work to ensure that all of our programming is designed to welcome and support our BIPOC participants
- Provide childcare options for participants when needed
- Center women of color in the design, instruction, and evaluation of the programs
- Examine our organization and programs and disrupt any patterns of White Supremacy and patriarchy to ensure that our spaces are more liberated and inviting for all
- Give more women of color positions of power across the organization, including staff, field instructors, and Board of Directors
- Implement a professional development path for BIPOC who want to gain more skills and experience in the outdoor industry
- Deepen relationships with partner organizations who can hold us accountable to our BIPOC constituents
To do this we need resources. This work is underfunded and so needed. There are fewer opportunities to fund this programming through grants, making it difficult for us to financially support it on our own. This is where you come in. By investing and supporting BIPOC and the programs led by and for them, you provide opportunities for personal transformation in nature, and join in the work of combating the systemic racism that plagues the industry.
*those who identify as woman, female, femme, including cisgender and transgender women, and non-binary people who are comfortable in female spaces.
As the COVID-19 pandemic endures, we at Women’s Wilderness have continued to ask: what can we do within our industry and areas of expertise to help support our community — especially those who have been disproportionately impacted — through this crisis?
Essential workers are risking their own health to ensure that others stay safe and cared for. They play a vital role in our community and we’d like to give back to them and their families. We also want to respond to the widespread unemployment that has arisen due to the pandemic. Many families are experiencing financial insecurity and instability and we want to support them as well.
Our goal is to reduce the financial barriers for girls and LGBTQ+ youth related to an essential worker or someone who has experienced COVID-related unemployment. In addition to the universal experiences of social isolation and ambient trauma that many are feeling, these children carry the additional worry that their parent will get sick or that their family will fall on hard times. We are committed to providing a way for them to get outside, connect with other girls and LGBTQ+ youth, process their experiences, and have fun in a safe environment without having to worry about cost.
We invite and encourage our community to come together and contribute funds that will go directly to the scholarships for family members of essential workers and those experiencing unemployment due to COVID-19 so that they may participate in our programs free of charge.
Almost 20 years ago, Women’s Wilderness launched our first climbing and backpacking courses for migrant (Latina) girls. Today, we are launching Outdoor G.I.R.L.S. (Girl Immigrant and Refugee Leadership Series) in partnership with 4-6 girl-serving organizations working with immigrant, undocumented, refugee and asylee populations in Denver, Boulder and surrounding areas. This year-long program will be designed specifically to help 30 new-comer, adolescent girls connect to their potential, other girls, positive role models, safe space and the outdoors. Girls will participate in weekly (indoor and outdoor) climbing, nature immersion and leadership skill building sessions in the Spring and Fall, all which will be delivered IN the communities where girls live. In the summer, girls will go on immersive hiking, backpacking and climbing trips in the mountains of Colorado and Wyoming.
The real cost for one girl to participate in Outdoor G.I.R.L.S. is $1,500. Between now and the end of the year, together, we need to raise $45,000 to ensure 30 girls can start this program in January.
We are asking our community to make Outdoor G.I.R.L.S. a reality. Any support you can offer is welcome. And, we are looking for 30 supporters, who are uneasy with the situation for migrant girls in our area and are moved by the idea of supporting girls through outdoor programs to each give OR raise $1,500 (the price of one girl’s participation). The $1,500 raised for each girl will cover her gear, transportation, food, insurance, instructors and any other costs associated with after school and summer courses.
The migrant girls in our community are often indirect casualties of direct conflicts. Let’s do right by them and support their mental and physical health, social connectedness and sense of belonging here in the mountains of Colorado.
Today, were are in the midst of one of the greatest migration crises the world has ever known. 70.8 million people have been forcibly displaced. Syria. Yemen. Myanmar. Congo. Honduras. The list goes on. Regardless of your political views on immigration, we can all agree that migrant girls in our communities deserve to thrive. However, their stories are virtually absent in the narrative we are seeing in the gender-blind media coverage. In reality, migrant girls in this country are more likely than their male peers to:
- Be denied an education, especially high school.
- Shoulder a disproportionate burden of domestic work.
- Have their mobility limited due to safety and conservative cultural norms.
- Experience gender-based violence (sexual abuse) in their home country and in transition.
We believe these girls are strong beyond compare, resilient and have infinite potential, if seen and supported fully in their transition. We also know that our girls’ programs at Women’s Wilderness are evidence-based solutions to supporting girls’ physical and mental health, self esteem, social connectedness and identity development.