Earth Day Reflections
I was invited by my colleague, Quena Batres, Volunteer and Community Engagement Manager to join three outdoor groups on a journey to Yellow Island, an 11-acre island in Washington’s San Juan Islands. Members of Outdoor Asian (OA), Outdoor Afro (OA), and Latino Outdoors (LO) made up a group of 27 gathered on Earth Day 2023. People arrived in Anacortes, Washington, carrying brightly colored backpacks, binoculars, cameras, wading boots, lunch sacks with extra food to share, hats for warmth, and sleepy smiles on a crisp and cloudy morning. Before our journey, Quena oriented the group and asked each person to share their name and a one-word check-in describing how they felt.
Joyful. Sleepy. Coffee. Curious. Dope. Excited. My word was first because this was my first adventure in Washington since moving from Oklahoma City to Seattle three days before. For the rest of the outing, I was playfully known as the girl who just moved.
Why are poc less likely to explore public lands?
These Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) explorers were honored to be present—perhaps because people of color are largely underrepresented in national parks, forests, and wildlife preserves. According to The National Health Foundation, white people make up 70 percent of all visitors to public lands. Some believe this is because BIPOC do not enjoy the outdoors, which is an unfortunate stereotype. Visitor, Quaniqua Williams said, “I held the assumption that Black folks do not spend much time outside. That assumption was debunked. Volunteering on Yellow Island began to shift my perspective about being outside.”
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