Minnesota is a state blessed with plenty of open space. Pristine lakes, rocky shores, towering pines, dancing prairies, there is a never-ending, ever-changing kaleidoscope of nature that begs us to explore.
But not everyone feels welcome.
Historically, outdoor recreation has been a domain of the white, wealthy, able-bodied, and male. Here in Minnesota, about 20 percent of Minnesotans identify as black. But according to a study by the Department of Natural Resources, people of color make up only five percent of the state park’s visitors.
What can be done to encourage all Minnesotans to enjoy our rich countryside? Is there a way to make communities of color feel safe and welcome in traditionally white outdoor spaces? What innovative programs are already addressing this discrepancy?
On August 31, MPR News host Twila Dang tackled these questions and more with two outdoor equity experts during a special In Focus live at the Minnesota State Fair.
AnthonyTaylor works tirelessly to connect black and color communities with nature-based outdoor experiences and active living. He has led equitable outdoor efforts as Adventures Director for the Loppet Foundation and as SVP Equity Outdoors for YMCA of the North. He continues that work to make Minnesota’s green spaces welcoming and accessible to all through his work at the Met Council, the Cultural Wellness Center, and various other community, state, and community partners.
Asha Shoffner is an educator, adventurer, disruptor, aunt and founder of Fiwygin Outdoors and the Facebook group BIPOC Outdoors Twin Cities. Asha also works for the City of Saint Paul as the Environmental and Outdoor Education Coordinator.
To listen to the full conversation, you can use the audio player above.
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