The Weekly - July 30, 2020 - 15


importance of facing the uncomfortable truths of a society still so
profoundly shaped by systemic
racism. Composed primarily of
educators, the panel encouraged
the audience to acknowledge the
critical work of training young
people to become part of a professional environment that is not only
equitable, but inspires the protection of the natural world.
"How can we use education
as a model to bring more people
into our outdoor spaces, into our
industry, into advocacy-from
the sewing rooms of gear shops to
the board meetings ... to the halls
of DC?" asked Andrés Esparza,
grassroots engagement director at
the Conservation Lands Foundation and Western Colorado University. "While we're doing that,
everybody's voices are brought
along and have equal share. This
isn't about giving people special
opportunities. This is about
recognizing the talent that has
always existed around us, but that
we have failed to bring into the
The panelists suggested, in
many ways, the key to workplace
equity is changing the way we do
business. Advocacy organizations
are striving to shift the current
system so it is more inclusive of
an emerging demographic of
young people who are increasingly more diverse.
"Part of our role is in educating
communities, as well as working
alongside to develop new systems,"
said panelist Lesford Duncan,
senior director of programs of the
nonprofit Outdoor Outreach. "In
order to address systemic racism,
it takes more than just a flashy
statement or a public picture. It
really takes doing the hard work
to really dig in and dismantle the

All in for the Planet

Banding together will create cumulative effects in
both GHG reduction and climate policy.
By Jenn Fields


should be the industry's priority: reducing emissions or
climate policy? If you attended the ORO session Thriving
Planet Emission Reductions
or Policy Revisions: Which
Is the Outdoor Industry's
Best Opportunity for Climate
Impact? on July 22, you know
it was a trick question. The
answer is both.
Working together to build
everyone's relatively small efforts into a larger effect was a
theme with all three speakers.
"Just one company by itself
reducing (greenhouse gas-

ses)-yes, it could go unnoticed," said Danielle Cresswell,
senior sustainability manager
for Klean Kanteen. "But if we
pool our efforts together cumulatively, it can really add up
to a meaningful and measurable reduction."
That philosophy applies to
advocacy as well, said Natalie
Mebane, associate director
for U.S. policy at Mebane offered an example of
an industry that has banded
together a little too well-the
American Petroleum Institute
is organized and politically
powerful, but it's a boom-and-

bust industry. "The outdoor
industry is much more stable,
and it's still worth hundreds of
billions of dollars and employs
millions more people," she
said, adding that it's a strong
lobbying position.
This is why OIA is developing a climate policy agenda,
said Amy Horton, OIA's senior
director of sustainable business innovation. "The focus
of our policy agenda, which is
still forming, still preliminary,
will be bringing the unique and
the unified voice of the outdoor business community to
elected officials and agencies."

systems within our organizations,
within our communities, and
then on a national level, to really
bring out justice and equity in
outdoor spaces and in the outdoor
Social media posts depicting
people of color on Facebook and
Instagram aren't enough. The
core of this effort, they said, is
coming to grips with our nation's
history of racism. The panelists
insist that the only way forward is
to have a frank discussion about
how customs and policies of the
past have directly impacted the
present. "This country is not at
ease in that conversation. So we
make up excuses so we don't have
to deal with it directly," said Teresa
Baker, creator of the Outdoor CEO
Diversity Pledge. "My job isn't to

make people feel comfortable with
the truth. It's putting the truth out
there and expecting us as human
beings, as adults, to understand
our obligations within that truth."
Taking a cue from the morning keynote discussion at the OIA
Industry Breakfast led by Angelou
Ezeilo, co-founder of the Greening
Youth Foundation, the panelists
agreed that the most successful
business strategy must involve
the generation of women and
men who will be the future of the
outdoor industry.
"It's beneficial to engage young
adults and communities of color in
this environmental sector," Ezeilo
said. "Having them as part of your
business removes blind spots, increases market exposure, keeps your
organization relevant, and gives you

access to these brilliant minds."
The panelists agreed the
long-term success of the outdoor
industry is dependent upon
recruiting and retaining young
people from all walks of life. The
diversity of the talent pool is
directly related to the cultural relevance that will allow businesses
and environmental organizations
to thrive into the future.
"Think for a second about all the
ways you are losing because you
leave us out," Esperanza said. "I
think that when you flip the script,
we become an important asset to
an equitable and important future,
versus something that is added in
in order to look good for external
PR. Framing it that way, the larger
community together with all of
our perspectives will win."



The Weekly - July 30, 2020

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