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
Outdoor Leaders Who Inspire Us: the Service Board
Jul 26, 2022
We recently talked with a few groups we admire, including Shona Kerrick from the Service Board, to learn more about how they are building better futures for their communities.
Outdoor Leaders Who Inspire Us: Trail Mixed Collective
Jul 19, 2022
We recently talked with a few groups we admire, including Quena Batres and Liselle Pires of Trail Mixed Collective, to learn more about how they are building better futures for their communities.
Outdoor Leaders Who Inspire Us: Sea Potential
Jul 13, 2022
We recently talked with a few local outdoor groups we admire to learn more about how they are building better futures for their communities.
A Tool to Help Wheelchair Hikers Find Trails
With the help of hikers who use wheelchairs, WTA has created a new tool to help more hikers find a trail that will work for them. | By Anna Roth
How One Forest Service Leader is Inspiring a New Generation
Jun 30, 2022
For over two decades, Aleta Eng has been working to connect people to public lands and inspiring the next generation of U.S. Forest Service leaders. As the partnership specialist for the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Aleta has been thoughtful, innovative and creative in building a strong youth and community engagement program.
I'm a Hiker. This is What that Means to Me.
Jun 06, 2022
What does it mean to be a hiker? The question is our own to answer.
Using Trails to See the Bigger Picture
Jun 08, 2022
Bri Ross, a member of WTA's Emerging Leaders Program, has long been interested in using recreation ecology to understand the natural world.
Empowering One Another: A Personal Reflection on My Experience With WTA's Emerging Leaders Program
Apr 26, 2022
I recently finished 12-week's in WTA's Emerging Leaders Program, a paid development opportunity for individuals who are historically underrepresented in the outdoor industry. Now, as I'm moving onto a permanent position at WTA, I'm looking back on what I learned and the power of the connections I made.
How WTA's Second Gear Library is Helping One Group Get Outside
May 06, 2022
In August last year, WTA was excited to open the doors to a second gear library, located in Puyallup’s Meridian Habitat Park. We choose this location to help us better meet the needs of communities in the South Puget Sound region. And we’ve been thrilled to see groups already getting outside, with support from the new gear library.