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What is Outdoor Equity and How Does it Intersect with Storytelling?

Updated: Feb 24

First of all: What is outdoor equity? In short, it's the process of making the outdoors accessible for all by reducing existing social, cultural, financial, and logistical barriers, and recognizing that some communities and identities need extra support to get there.

Therefore, equitable outdoor media reflects the following:

  • Challenging the dominant narrative that overlooks and minimizes diverse participation in adventure sports, outdoor recreation, and conservation work.

  • Creating stories that values the whole person Including stakeholders in the creative process

  • Minimizing extractive and tokenizing practices in the name of “diversity”.

  • This framework applies to all marginalized and intersectional identities, including race, gender, sexual orientation, body size, and disabilities.

With that definition in mind, most storytelling following equitable practices will fall into at least one of the broad goals below:

  1. Representation and Visibility: Media plays a pivotal role in shaping perceptions of who engages in outdoor activities and how. When outdoor media predominantly features certain demographics, such as white, cisgender, male, or able-bodied individuals, it perpetuates the notion that outdoor spaces cater primarily to that group. This lack of representation can foster a sense of unwelcomeness or inaccessibility for people from marginalized communities. Normalizing diversity in media helps dismantle stereotypes, challenge limiting beliefs, and mitigate judgmental attitudes.

  2. Access to Information: Media serves as a vital platform for disseminating information about outdoor activities, destinations, resources, and educational opportunities. It enables individuals to discover nearby parks, trails, recreational facilities, and outdoor events. Accessible and inclusive media coverage ensures that more people become aware of the diverse opportunities available in their local communities and beyond. If individuals cannot see themselves represented or connect with the media presented, they are more likely to overlook these opportunities.

  3. Community Building: Media platforms, including social media, forums, and websites, facilitate connections among outdoor enthusiasts. From affinity groups to beginner-friendly spaces to advanced specialty clinics, these platforms foster real connections, friendships, and mentorships. They provide spaces for individuals to explore new activities, share experiences, exchange tips, and organize outdoor trips. By fostering community , media helps dismantle barriers to entry and build a sense of belonging for those who feel marginalized in outdoor spaces.

  4. Inspiration and Empowerment: Media has the power to inspire individuals to explore the outdoors and pursue new activities. Through images, stories, and videos, individuals see themselves represented in outdoor settings and feel empowered to immerse themselves in nature. It encourages people to step out of their comfort zones and embrace new experiences that may have seemed unattainable before.

  5. Advocacy and Awareness: Media coverage raises awareness about various issues related to outdoor equity, including access to green spaces, environmental justice, and the preservation of natural resources. By spotlighting these issues, media mobilizes advocacy efforts and encourages positive change.

  6. Reinforcement: The abundance of media content addressing these goals reinforces the importance of these issues. While change takes time, the availability of diverse media options allows for broader reach and greater connections. Creating a cycle of positive reinforcement is key to effecting change.

It is a collective responsibility to create change and opportunities. Brands, community groups, and non-profits will all benefit from creating media that supports and actively contributes to changing the landscape of outdoor participation, and makes outdoor spaces more welcoming and accessible.

Images from the Latino Outdoors Intro to Outdoor Climbing Retreat for Women + Gender Queer Identities


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