WTA’s Commitment to Stand Against Racism
Washington Trails Association is committed to trails for everyone, forever. To make that a reality, we must all come together to make the nation a more just, equitable and safe place for everyone, everywhere, regardless of the color of their skin. As a White-led organization, we know it is our work to help dismantle institutional racism. We are constantly working to become an equitable organization and standing up against all racial injustice. We are dedicated to working with our community and partners to overcome the deep and enduring impacts of racism in our organization and in the outdoor recreation environment more broadly. We have much work to do.
Why this matters
Racial justice is essential to our mission. People of color often face unique challenges to getting outdoors, including inequitable access to local trails due to unwarranted suspicion, confrontation and violence when recreating outdoors; a history of underinvestment in particular communities; and structural inequity that creates high barriers for some individuals and communities to participate in outdoor activities. Until our nation is a just, equitable and safe place for everyone and until the outdoors is welcoming and accessible to hikers of all backgrounds, regardless of race, we won’t truly have trails for everyone, forever.
What we’re doing
WTA has been actively working on our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) for several years — and we acknowledge that we still have a lot of work to do both in our organization and with the broader outdoor community. Events in the news continue to highlight the ongoing history of racial violence against people of color in America. It is critical for White-led organizations and beneficiaries of dominant culture in the outdoor community to examine the racial inequities inherent in our industry and to take steps to dismantle structural racism and systemic white privilege in all its forms.
Here are some of the steps we’re taking:
Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Plan: In 2020, WTA wrapped up our first DEI plan (read our report on our progress). The plan focused on reducing barriers to the outdoors faced by historically marginalized communities, including people of color. That work will continue, and we are working with our board, staff and community partners to refresh this plan for the next 2-3 years. We commit to sharing the specific actions we plan to take to continue to reduce those barriers, to work anti-racism into our curriculum and trainings, and lift up those working to undo the history of inequity and institutionalized racism.
Organizational learning: As a predominantly White organization, it is incumbent upon us to understand what we can do to better support the people of color on our staff, partners and communities of color, and to explore ways to make our organization and culture a more attractive place to work. This also applies to better supporting our staff and partners from all communities of color. We commit to examining and improving our own recruiting, hiring and retention policies and practices to make them more equitable, and to undoing practices, policies and ways of doing business that are rooted in White dominant culture.
Direct support to community groups: One way we have already been supporting community groups and partners is through our Outdoor Leadership Training (OLT) mini-grant program. This program provides up to $500 in funding assistance to community partners to help mitigate the cost of outdoor experiences for youth. We commit to building on this program to expand our level of support to of color. Learn more about how to apply.
Amplifying voices: Finally, we have an opportunity to continue to use our platform to amplify the messages of people of color. We commit to examining how we include and amplify voices through our magazine, website and social media channels and to identifying ways to further lift up those voices.
Collection of WTA’s past writing and work on DEI
WTA’s Emerging Leaders Program is Creating a Welcoming Space to Learn and Grow in the Outdoor Community
Charlie Lavides faced hurdles entering the outdoor industry. WTA's Emerging Leaders Program granted them an opportunity to foster and find community on Washington trails. By Charlie Lavides
WTA Partner Profile: Y.E.T.I. Gets Kids Outside While Building Community
Feb 28, 2023
Since 2015, WTA has been collaborating with the Youth Experiential Training Institute (Y.E.T.I.), which works to make it easier for young people in South King County to get outdoors. Building community is at the heart of their work. WTA's Outdoor Leadership Training program provides gear and resources for Y.E.T.I.'s outings.Their work fits in well with our vision of Trails for Everyone, Forever, and we're so excited to see the program keep growing.
Rue Mapp Uplifts Black Joy in the Outdoors with New Book
In her new book, Rue Mapp is telling the story of Black people that she has always known to be true — one of freedom and strength. By Jessi Loerch
Building Onramps to Nature’s Benefits
Dec 06, 2022
Braided Seeds is helping communities of color rest and reconnect to nature. A wilderness first aid course, in partnership with WTA, has been one way to help people in their community feel safer outside.
I Was Afraid Of the Outdoors. Now I Help Others Hit the Trails.
It was a winding road to where I'm at, and WTA helped me get here. By Tiffany Chou.
How Friends of the Children Seattle Made 'Trail Tuesdays' a Reality, with a Little Help from WTA
Nov 16, 2022
Friends of the Children Seattle spent the summer exploring local trails and introducing youth to the fun of hiking. (And the joy of eating frozen yogurt during a hike.) WTA's Outdoor Leadership Training program helped them have a successful summer of exploration.
Step by Step: How WTA's Community Partner Used Boots From Our Gear Library to Get Outside
Nov 07, 2022
Whether it's for hiking Mount Rainier, taking early steps to leading the way for environmental justice or celebrating being comfortable outdoors, we caught up with community partners to learn more about how they've utilized hiking boots from WTA's gear lending library.
A Path to an Outdoor Career: Shape Your Future with WTA's Emerging Leaders Program
Oct 11, 2022
WTA's Emerging Leaders Program is now accepting applications for the 2023 season! We caught up with some past participants to find out what they're up to now.
Shared-Language Hikes Helped Break Down Barriers to the Outdoors This Summer
Oct 31, 2022
Last month, ECOSS wrapped up its summer season of shared-language hiking trips to Little Si — aiming to expand outdoor access to underserved communities — using the Trailhead Direct program. We connected with some of the ECOSS staff and trip leaders to talk about their experiences hiking with their communities.