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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. WTA stands in solidarity with Black Lives Matter, as well as other organizations working against anti-Black racism. As a white-led organization, we know it is our work to help dismantle institutional racism. We reaffirm our commitment to becoming an equitable organization and standing up against anti-Black violence and 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.

This page is a living resource to help WTA and our community continue to learn and grow as we work against racism. We will continue to add to it as our diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) journey continues. 

 

Why this matters

We believe that the outdoors are good for people’s hearts, bodies and minds. Everyone should have safe and easy access to trails. Unfortunately, that is not the reality. To be able to recreate outside, you need to be able to be outside without fear for your life (#ChristianCooper and #AhmaudArbery), to be at home without fearing for your life (#BreonnaTaylor) and to breathe (#GeorgeFloyd and #EricGarner).  

Furthermore, we believe that racial justice is essential to our missions. Black hikers, and other 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 is next

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. Recent events have, once again, highlighted the ongoing history of racial violence against Black people, as well as Indigenous and other 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. 

We will be sharing more about the longer-term steps we plan to take, but here are a few small steps we are taking now: 

  • Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Plan: WTA has a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion plan for the next year that focuses on reducing barriers to the outdoors faced by historically marginalized communities, including Black people and other people of color. We are currently working with our board, staff and community partners to refresh this plan for the next 2-3 years and to commit to posting here 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 ourselves to understand what we can do to better support our Black staff and staff members of color, partners and communities of color, and to explore ways to make our organization and culture a more attractive place for Black talent. This also applies to better supporting our staff and partners from other 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 Black 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 Black-led partners and other communities of color. More information about how to apply can be found here
  • Amplifying Black and POC voices: Finally, we have an opportunity to continue to use our platform to amplify the messages of Black-led organizations and other POC voices.  We commit to examining how we include and amplify Black voices through our magazine, website and social media channels and to identifying ways to further lift up those voices.

 

Supporting our partners

WTA is committed to supporting our community partners by amplifying their voices, highlighting their work and listening and learning. We encourage you to learn more about our community partners that are doing powerful work to make outdoor spaces more welcoming and accessible to Black people and other historically marginalized communities, and to consider supporting their work directly:

Outdoor Afro: The nation’s leading, cutting-edge network that celebrates and inspires Black connections and leadership in nature. Outdoor Afro is a national nonprofit organization with leadership networks around the country, committed to connecting Black people with nature and changing the face of leadership in the outdoors.  Please consider supporting them here

GirlTrek: A pioneer health movement for African-American women and girls grounded in civil-rights history and principles through walking campaigns, community leadership and health advocacy.  Please consider supporting them here

Latino Outdoors: Inspires, connects and engages Latino communities in the outdoors and embraces cultura y familia as part of the outdoor narrative, ensuring our history, heritage, and leadership are valued and represented.  Please consider supporting them here

Outdoor AsianOrganization of hikers working to create a diverse and inclusive community of Asian and Pacific Islanders in the outdoors through locally-based trips, outings and workshops; sharing stories and histories; and by linking Asian and Pacific Islander leaders to the outdoor recreation and environmental sectors. Please consider supporting them here

Young Women Empowered (Y-WE) : Cultivates the power of diverse young women* to be creative leaders and courageous changemakers through transformative programs within a collaborative community of belonging. They envision a society rooted in social justice, where all young women live their truth, achieve their dreams and change our world. Please consider supporting them here
*those who identify as women or girls or were assigned female at birth

 

What you can do

Change starts at home. Educate yourself on the history of racial violence and racist systems in our country. Listening to voices beyond your usual circle is a good first step. Below is a set of partners, organizations and resources that have been recommended to us — we encourage you to explore this work further. In addition to learning, please consider giving your time and resources to support the important work these organizations are doing to create a more just and equitable world.

Organizations working for racial justice

There are a wide variety of Black- and other POC-led organizations pushing for racial justice and speaking out against racism both in general and in the outdoors specifically. We have provided a few examples below in an effort to highlight a range of perspectives and voices on these issues.  

National organizations 

  • Black Lives Matter: Global movement whose mission is to eradicate white supremacy and end state-sanctioned violence against Black people. 
  • Campaign Zero: Nonprofit providing research-based policy solutions at the federal, state and local levels to reduce police violence nationwide. 
  • Color of Change: America’s largest online racial justice organization leading national and local campaigns that research systems of inequality, build power for Black communities and advance social justice.
  • Southern Poverty Law Center: Nonprofit dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of our society. 

Local organizations 

  • Black Lives Matter Seattle-King Co.: Seattle-based chapter of national Black Lives Matter movement.  Note: Click here for a list of events and activities they have planned with the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle to commemorate Juneteenth, the day when Union general Gordon Granger read federal orders in Galveston, Texas, that all previously enslaved people in Texas were free.
  • Got Green: A South Seattle-based grassroots organization led by people of color and low-income people that organizes for environmental, racial and economic justice. Got Green cultivates multi-generational community leaders to be central voices in the Green Movement in order to ensure that the benefits of the green movement and green economy (green jobs, healthy food, energy efficient & healthy homes, public transit) reach low-income communities and communities of color.
  • King County Equity Now Coalition: A coalition of long-standing, accountable, Black-led community-based organizations in King County fighting to achieve equity in Seattle’s Martin Luther King County. 
  • South Seattle Emerald: A platform that authentically depicts the dynamic voices, culture, arts, ideas and businesses that fall within South Seattle’s borders

Organizations Focused On Anti-racism and the Outdoors

  • The Avarna Group: DEI consultant for outdoor orgs with free resources anyone can utilize. Especially interesting for educators or anyone that leads groups into the outdoors. 
  • Green 2.0: Formerly known as the Green Diversity Initiative, this group works to develop a powerful, winning environmental movement grounded in equity and inclusion through data transparency, movement tracking, public attention and leadership development.
  • Outdoor Industry CEO Diversity Pledge: Connecting leading outdoor brands with inclusion advocates to advance representation for people of color across the industry.  Includes a recently launched search page for minority job seekers looking for employment in the outdoor and travel industries here
  • PGM ONE - Black Joy Fund: Direct-giving fund organized by People of the Global Majority in the Outdoors, Nature and Environment (PGM ONE) that provides resources that “contribute to the joy, dreams, wellness and imagination of Black folks”.  
  • Pedal 2 the People: Coalition of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color working to make the outdoors and cycling more equitable and inclusive.
  • Major Taylor Project: After school bicycling clubs that help to empower youth in underserved neighborhoods in central and south King County and Pierce County.
  • Melanin Basecamp: Black-founded and led nonprofit devoted to increasing ethnic minority and LGBTQ+ participation in the outdoors
  • Youth Outside: Oakland-base organization devoted to ensuring that the lived experience of all youth is honored as part of the outdoor experience. Youth Outside provides grantmaking, capacity building, and training to promote healthy lives and inspire future champions of the planet.

Other organizations working against racial violence or towards social justice

  • Lead to Life: Atlanta and Oakland-based organization that transforms weapons into shovels for tree planting ceremonies at sites that have been impacted by violence or that carry spiritual significance for communities that have been impacted by violence.
  • Transgender Law Center's Black LGBTQIA+ Migrant Project: Effort to build and center the power of Black LGBTQIA+ migrants through community-building, political education, creating access to direct services and organizing across borders. 

Expanding the Narrative — Amplifying diverse voices in the outdoors space

  • Climbers of Color: Pacific Northwest based climbing community focused on creating leaders of color in mountaineering and climbing
  • Get Out, Stay Out / Vamos Afuera: Indigenous youth-led nonprofit helping youth leaders reconnect to the outdoors through culturally equitable outdoor programming
  • Indigenous Women Hike: Instagram account featuring stories and perspectives from Indigenous women hikers 
  • Native Womens Wilderness: A gathering place to share stories, to learn, and to support other Native Womxn
  • Outside Voices Podcast: Podcast featuring stories from Black, Indigenous and People of Color, people with disabilities, LGBTQIA+ folk and others who #RedefineOutdoorsy
  • Queer Nature: Queer-run nature education and ancestral skills program serving the LGBTQ2+ community in Western Washington
  • She_colorsnature: Instagram account focused on building community and increasing representation for women of color
  • Unlikely Hikers: Instagram account featuring and stories about diversity, community, anti-racism and body liberation outdoors

 

Anti-racism resources


Collection of WTA’s past writing and work on DEI

A Week at Mount Rainier Helped Build Community for Latina Teens

Each of the youth who joined the trip was unique and different, but they had one thing in common. None of them knew another Latina their age whom they could invite camping. By the end of the trip, they each knew seven other girls who shared both a part of their identity and their experience with the outdoors | By Sully Moreno

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Throw Wide the Gates: Why Gatekeeping is Harmful to Hikers

Oct 01, 2019

Trails are for everyone, but not everyone feels welcome. Here are tips to be a more inclusive hiker.

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Community & Healing

Outdoor Asian has helped me connect to nature, my family and my culture | by Joan Hong

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Wheeling in the Wild

How I kept hiking, backpacking and exploring the wild places I love, with the assistance of a wheelchair | by Jenny Schmitz

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Time for Self

In a period of turmoil, time outdoors was both respite and reawakening | by shon't savage

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A Trail Work Party With Powerful History

Jan 16, 2019

This winter, WTA volunteers helped rejuvenate Japanese American Exclusion Memorial on Bainbridge Island.

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I Am My Ancestors' Wildest Dreams

by Bam Mendiola

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At Home in Nature

People might not always be welcoming, but when I'm outside, I can breathe freely and find peace | by Hamziye Aman

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GirlTrek: Walking as a Radical Act of Self-Care

Jun 28, 2018

GirlTrek started as a hiking club. It quickly grew into a movement to reverse the systemic health crisis experienced by black women and transform the health and well-being of entire communities.

Read More