Colour within the Outside desires to open up the pure world to marginalized teams in Wisconsin


For Christopher Kilgour, simply sitting at the decision-making table is not enough for groups like his that advocate for equal access to nature.

“It’s also about having a cup, a plate, a knife, a spoon and a meal,” he said. “Not only have a voice, but be included in the conversation in the long term and sustainably.”

Kilgour is the founder of Color in the Outdoors, a Wisconsin organization that wants people of all backgrounds and abilities to enjoy what nature has to offer – whether it’s in a forest, by a creek or in the park around the corner.

Getting out into nature doesn’t have to mean going miles from a city. It can just go into the front yard or anything out front — that’s why it’s called “outside,” he said.

Kilgour grew up in Madison, “right in the center of town,” though he spent most of his time in the great outdoors throughout the year. But those around him didn’t always look like him. There is a misconception that outdoor recreation is a predominantly white activity.

It can be a bit daunting or intimidating at times,” he said.

He hadn’t noticed it that much as a child, but as he got older he became more aware of it. He grew up wanting to be a role model for others who looked like him.

He began sharing where and when he would be doing an upcoming hike through word of mouth or on social media, Madison365 reported last year. But he recently told WPR’s Central Time that he’s had some nudges to better organize his mission.

“I made a similar decision, with my own personal background, being a multiracial person, I really wanted to try and continue to encourage and encourage conversations as a group of people with a mixed population,” he told Madison365.

Two pillars of his work are representation and accessibility.

At first glance, it can be as simple as these recreation rooms putting up brochures and printed materials, he said. He praised the state office for outdoor sports for the conscious representation.

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He also referred to the signage. He said signs should be in many languages, not just English. He also said it’s important to be specifically in Madison that city parks recognize they are on Ho-Chunk Nation land.

Kilgour said those responsible for the recreation spaces should take stock and seek input from marginalized groups: Does everyone feel welcome in these spaces? What could be done differently to improve?

“Any time a room says, ‘No, we don’t have to do that,’ there’s a chance they really have to do that,” he said.

In terms of accessibility, he said some of the most popular spots for outdoor recreation are often confiscated. Transportation can be an obstacle if, for example, bus lines do not reach these places.

When cities have free space, Kilgour says, it doesn’t always have to be parking lots and high-rise buildings. He said they should invest in parks and green spaces.

That doesn’t stop with building them either. It’s also important to maintain these spaces and keep them welcoming, he said. Who would want to go to a park where all of the plant life is dead or dying?

The internet has also helped make nature more accessible. Not only did Kilgour use it to expand his own network, he said people could use it to search for something to do over the weekend or to search for other groups who share the same mission as him.

At the same time, Kilgour encourages everyone to switch off a bit. Whether it’s a weekend camping trip or just a stroll around the block, he wants Wisconsinites to enjoy everything the great outdoors has to offer.

“We’re so locked into electronics and busy schedules these days that we don’t typically spend time literally smelling the roses and seeing the wood for the trees,” he said.