We Have Work to Do

June 03, 2020
Joshua Howard, Executive Director
New York-New Jersey Trail Conference

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We Have Work to Do
The Trail Conference acknowledges the work that must be done to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion within our organization and throughout the outdoor community.

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The injustice faced by Black communities across America has made the need to listen, learn, reflect, and change imperative.

All aspects of society must examine their behavior and do better. This includes the Trail Conference, particularly if we are to hold true to our mission and values.

We have been listening to the conversation and reflecting on what our organization can do to be part of the solution. We recognize that there is no quick and simple answer to undoing decades of exclusionary behaviors and policies, but that we have an obligation to do our part. Every organization adapts, adjusts, and evolves—or else it becomes insignificant and disappears. To remain impactful, we must admit some hard truths. That starts with acknowledging our shortcomings surrounding a lack of diversity, equality, and inclusion within our organization and on the lands we love. That includes recognizing we have a lot of work to do.

The barriers between people of color and equitable access to the outdoors are dramatic. We believe the joys of nature belong to everyone and that all people—regardless of race, age, ability, sexual orientation, or location—should be able to experience the rewards of connecting with nature. It is our job to work with our partners to help make trails and parks safe and welcoming for those who might not know the joys of nature exist, might not have access to trails, or aren’t yet comfortable being alone in the woods.

We all must play a role in fighting systematic racism and discrimination. The outdoors are a place of peace and healing, and denying that respite to people of color is something we cannot stand by any longer. While so many of us feel our fellow trail users are family regardless of our backgrounds, not everyone shares that point of view. And access to nature isn’t always as equitable as our mission and values may imply. As an environmental organization and leader in the outdoor community, the Trail Conference will address the issues that have been ignored for too long, both internally and within the outdoor industry. 

We have no concrete plan to unveil today because we ourselves are still learning what that needs to entail. However, as a first step, in the coming weeks we will launch a new webpage dedicated to elevating the voices of people of color in the outdoor industry. We hope you find this to be a valuable resource for learning about the outdoors—it will be for us, as we join this movement for change. We hope you will join too.

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