In celebration of black history month meet 15 inspiring black leaders in the Colorado's environmental and outdoor movement. These leaders are igniting lasting change in their communities and beyond. From trail runners to environmental justice activists, black people are making a huge impact in the environmental movement. Celebrate Black History Month any time of year by taking a closer look at some notable black environmentalists and outdoor leaders working in Colorado today.
COLORADO PARKS AND WILDLIFE
Colorado State University / ECOINCLUSIVE/ KWEEN Werk
KWEEN WERK is dedicated to disrupting the narrative that only able-bodied people from dominate culture care about the environment and participate in outdoor recreation activities. KWEEN stands for Keep Widening Environmental Engagement Narratives. KWEEN WERK challenges traditional representations of what it means to be outdoorsy by showing a variety of bodies engaged in outdoor spaces.
Summit for Action. is a gathering for thought-provoking discussions and solutions-based recommendations for Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in Nonprofit Organizations. Summit for Action brings together leaders and key stakeholders and will features a mix of planned and open space conference sessions intended to help organizations build diverse workplaces and increase community impact.
Ecoinclusive Website Facebook
KWEEN WERK Website Facebook Instagram
Summit for Action Website Facebook
Rising Routes is aiming to normalize uncomfortable conversations around social justice, diversity, equity, inclusion, and mental health, to lift the veil of “normal” and disempower stigmas and perceptions, erasive and appropriative history, and empower a future of people capable of celebrating and finding strength in their differences while working to affect sweeping systemic change.
Working across cultures and identities requires us to expand our comfort zone, owning our power and privilege, and engaging in active self-reflection that interrogates what we hold to be true. The outdoors is their medium, the trail is their guide.
Instagram - Rising Routes
Facebook - Rising Routes
Meetup.com - Https://www.meetup.com/Rising-Routes/
PATRICIA ANN CAMERON
COLORADO PARKS AND WILDLIFE COMMISSIONER/ OUTDOOR AFRO/ AMERICAN INSTITUTES FOR RESEARCH
Previously, Taishya worked with the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, the DC Public Charter Schools Board, Global Classrooms Washington, DC, and the Children Defense Fund Freedom Schools. Taishya also co-founded New Legacy Charter School – a public charter high school and early learning center for teen parents and their children in Aurora, Colorado. Taishya holds a MA in International Education from George Washington University and a BA from Vassar College. You will find her on the trail, slopes, crag, yoga mat, conference room, garden, and in the presence of those who love and cherish life.
BLACK WOMEN'S ALLIANCE OF DENVER / LIFES2SHORTFITNESS / CITYWILD / WOMEN'S WILDERNESS
AMERICAN ALPINE CLUB / OUTDOOR AFRO
LEANDER R. LACY
LACY CONSULTING SERVICES, LLC
Leander went on to work 8 years with The Nature Conservancy. His final role before starting his own business was as the Global Methodology Learning Coordinator where he assisted teams throughout the world with strategic planning on large-scale conservation issues and ensuring that social science principles were incorporated. Now he takes his extensive experience and is helping environmental organizations accomplish their goals in innovative and people-focused ways. He recently facilitated a strategic planning process for a 5-state collaborative to save the Southern U.S. shortgrass prairie, he is helping an organization understand their need for diversity, equity, and inclusion in their North America agriculture approach, and recently his company became international as he was sought out by a conservation group in the Bahamas to conduct focus groups to understand and begin mending the breakdown in trust between fishers, law enforcement, and conservation groups.
Find his organization on Facebook and LinkedIn
KRISTINA OPRE GRAY
ENVIRONMENTAL LEARNING FOR KIDS (ELK)
A PRIVATE GUIDE, INC.
Sid Wilson’s has made large contributions to the outdoor tourism industry. Sid revels in sharing with clients the inspiring tales of Colorado's early pioneers whose resourcefulness enabled them to survive and prosper in the Rocky Mountain's volatile "boom" and "bust" economic cycles of the past. Sid is very active in his community. He has served as a Past Chairman of the Board of directors for the Black American West Museum and Heritage Center; Director Emeritus for the Center of the American West, @ CU Boulder; member board of directors for Colorado Historical Society’s African American Advisory Council; past board member and vice-chair of Historic Denver; past member of Historic Preservation State Review Board; Founding member and past Board Chairman of the James P. Beckwourth Mountain Club; Commissioner for Denver Mayor’s African American Commission; former member board of directors Colorado Scholarship Coalition; member board of directors Denver Zoological Foundation; Current member and past Board of Directors Chairman of both Lincoln Hills Cares, and Lincoln Hills Cares Foundation, and as an instructor for the International Guide Academy / USA & Mexico.
JESSICA "JESS" NEWTON
VIBE TRIBE ADVENTURE
Facebook: Monticue Connally
ANDREA DANCY AUGUISTE
NATIONAL WILDLIFE FEDERATION
cityWILD, MY OUTDOOR COLORADO COLE COALITION, PROJECT BELAY
KIA M. RUIZ
RIGHT TO KNOW/ GIRL TREK/ MEOW WOLF
When the environment does not have intrinsic value to be held sacred Kia approaches ways people can connect with it through economic and consumer impacts these days. Her passion is in connecting people to their interdependency with themselves, each other, and the environment. The yoga teaching is a tool to balance her brain and elevate others with how they show up in the world. She has been teaching for over ten years with specialities in prenatal, postpartum. yoga for healing, corporate, and hatha where she is now also a teacher trainer. Kia volunteers with Girl Trek as an Adventure Squad Leader. Girl Trek is the nation’s largest public health non-profit serving Black women. She has trained with the Sierra Club as a Hike Leader to support how people get on the trails at the annual Stress Protest and around the greater Denver area. You can find Kia on instagram at @kiamruiz where she posts about getting outside, her Denver life with her family, food, and how these all tie into to her personal thread of interdependency and connection.
This morning I am reminded of one of my favorite poems "A small needful fact." It sits at an intersection for me. An important reminder of the crossroads between environmentalism, environmental justice, and social justice issues. Eric Garner who had asthma, was among those people of color who often face higher exposure to pollutants and who often experience greater responses to such pollution through disease and health issues. We cannot deny this intersection. To truly address environmental issues that impact us all we have to address the social issues that impact some of us more.
Many people will only know of Eric Garner as the man who died in a police choke-hold in 2014. But I like to think of him as a gardener. I hope you enjoy the poem.
A small needful fact
By Ross Gay
Is that Eric Garner worked
for some time for the Parks and Rec.
Horticultural Department, which means,
perhaps, that with his very large hands,
perhaps, in all likelihood,
he put gently into the earth
some plants which, most likely,
some of them, in all likelihood,
continue to grow, continue
to do what such plants do, like house
and feed small and necessary creatures,
like being pleasant to touch and smell,
like converting sunlight
into food, like making it easier
for us to breathe.
The sun may shine indiscriminately but studies show that children of color deal with the effects of pollution a disproportionate amount. We believe all have the right to clean air, water and land. To address these inequities we have to begin with education. Privilege is often invisible to those that hold it. So educating ourselves and those in our network about the disparities that exists is important.We must define environmental justice in our organizations. We must understand how environmental justice affects air and water quality and the health of communities we partner with.
If you want to learn more here are some resources:
Environmental justice, explained
We can’t truly protect the environment unless we tackle social justice issues, too
Air Pollution, Asthma, and Children of Color
Study finds a race gap in air pollution — whites largely cause it; blacks and Hispanics breathe it
KWEEN stands for Keep Widening Environmental Engagement Narratives.