How important is diversity in the outdoors? Is it more than an “interesting conversation–or is it vital to the future of environmental conservation? Can it change the lives of real people in measurable ways? In early October, Stefanie and I took a trip to climb in the Gunks in upstate New York. It was supposed to be a chance to get away from “work” and just have some fun in outdoors. As you will hear in this episode, we wound up coming across a significant issue that forced me to break out the audio recorder!
I had planned to meet a fellow type 1 climber from New York City named Antonio. We were going to climb together and I had suggested that maybe he and I could shoot an interview. That was the plan going into the weekend. Now, I’ll ruin the surprise and tell you that I did interview Antonio and you’ll get to take in that episode right here–next week–and it’s one you do not want to miss. But here’s where things went off-script…
Stefanie had a really strong reaction to seeing me climbing with two other people who looked like her. Both Antonio and his climbing partner, Bruno, are Latino and for her to feel cultural commonalities in a climbing scenario was both strange and empowering for her. For me, it was empowering because I had the commonality of climbing and diabetes with both of the guys.
Sometimes I think that my ideas of the importance of seeing ourselves represented in the outdoors (as diabetics) is just me being silly. When I saw the impact it had on Stefanie to experience this same concept on a cultural plane, it really reinforced the importance of how we see ourselves and how that shapes the things we do.
In this episode we discuss Stefanie’s reaction as well as her stories of growing up in a Hispanic family and always feeling like adventure and being outdoors was something that “white families did”. I realize that discussing issues of ethnicity and cultural norms can be uncomfortable–but this is an honest conversation that I am glad we had–and are sharing. It’s really easy to overlook the importance of including everyone in the natural world when we assume that access to adventure is as simple as getting in a car and “going for it”.
I’m not sure what the “answer” is here, other than an opportunity to see a different perspective. More people outdoors, invested in the value of the natural world is inevitably better–not just for the individuals who get a better experience of life but for the future of environmental conservation. If people don’t feel connected to the natural world they won’t have a reason to protect and maintain it.
A few additional points :
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