Who are you listening to?
It’s clearer than ever before that we all have a role to play in bringing equity and inclusion to the outdoors. Today’s civil rights movement has awakened the outdoor and environmental community to the intersections between protecting the planet and advancing social justice. And so much of this work starts with intentional listening to the voices of individuals with contemporary perspectives.
Over history, there have been countless people who have fought for the environment, mostly unnamed and uncredited, some famous and often quoted. But until more recently, the world of conservation has not adequately celebrated the invaluable contributions of Black and Indigenous communities, as well as other marginalized groups and people of color.
We at POST think it’s time to change that — it’s time to listen.
Today, we want to introduce you to seven people who are taking an active role in shaping a more inclusive and equitable environmental movement, both here in California as well as nationwide. They are just a few of today’s most inspirational leaders, introducing new thoughts, paradigms and directions for our community about how we care for this planet.
We believe they tell their own stories best through their Instagram channels, but here we’d like to give you a short introduction to who they are, what they do and why you should be following along:*
Jaylyn Gough, from the Diné (Navajo) Tribe, is the founder and executive director of Native Women’s Wilderness for Indigenous women like herself to learn, be heard and enjoy the wilderness of their native lands. Her platform features awareness-building of the challenges and victories experienced by Indigenous and women of color in the outdoors, as well as beautiful photography from climbing, mountain biking and other activities she enjoys.
Jenny Bruso founded Unlikely Hikers as a group hiking community for every body and everybody. As a “white, queer, fat, femme, writer, hiker” who discovered the grounding effect of being in nature later in her life, she was inspired to create a space for those who don’t fit into the narrow definition of “outdoorsy.” Jenny’s platform is one of inclusivity and representation in nature, as well as her candid reflections on how her identities and living with CPTSD color her life.
José G. Gonzalez is many things – educator, environmentalist, artist, “Latino nerd” – including the founder of Latino Outdoors. Anyone who has participated in his workshops through the Avarna Group has seen his patient, compassionate way of helping participants discover their own biases and internalized racism. He puts out thought-provoking, humorous and joyful posts that bring you along on a DEI-in-the-outdoors journey with him.
Karen Ramos founded Get Out Stay Out / Vamos Afuera which provides outdoor programming for Indigenous Migrant youth in the Central Coast region to experience the outdoors in a culturally-sensitive manner. Her platform, @NatureChola has become a space for sharing her experience as a woman of color in the outdoors (check out her gnarly mountain biking cuts).
Leah Thomas founded her “eco-lifestyle” blog Green Girl Leah as well as the Intersectional Environmentalist. Her platform and messaging about environmental justice and inclusivity quite frankly blew up online over the last year, and she and her team continue to put out intriguing, informative, and important content about how we can all be intersectional environmentalists.
Teresa Baker founded the Outdoor CEO Diversity Pledge as part of the In Solidarity Project, which brings together outdoor brands and inclusion activists to push for better representation of people of color in the outdoor industry. She uses her platform to shed light on issues in the outdoors industry (often with humor sprinkled in) and to uplift the work of environmental activists.
Pattie Gonia is a queer environmentalist who uses the power of drag and nature to raise awareness about climate change, plastic waste, social justice issues – you name it. They aim to build an inclusive outdoors community and created a massive LGBTQIA+ job board for those seeking jobs in the environmental and outdoor industry, for employers and queer job seekers to connect with each other.
*Note: Listed alphabetically by first name.
Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) protects open space on the Peninsula and in the South Bay for the benefit of all. Since its founding in 1977, POST has been responsible for saving more than 87,000 acres as permanently protected land in San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties. Learn more