Montpelier, Vt. (October 13, 2022) – The Vermont Outdoor Business Alliance (VOBA) and Powered Magazine have partnered for a media project to promote outdoor and workplace opportunities for Black, Indigenous and Colored (BIPOC) Vermonters.
This summer and fall, the organizations partnered with the state of Vermont, outdoor brands and organizations on outings and multimedia storytelling focused on BIPOC outdoor recreation communities, as well as promoting career opportunities in Vermont’s outdoor sector Spotlight.
“Our common goal is to advance a vision for equal access for all to outdoor spaces and workplaces,” said Kelly Ault, Managing Director of VOBA. “Through field trips and training, interviews with outdoor professionals and storytelling that connects people, places, products and professions, we hope to show what’s possible when we work together.”
“Time comfortably spent in outdoor activities improves mental, physical and social health and is an investment in creating healthier and financially sustainable communities. However, members of the BIPOC community remain under-represented in nature, under-resourced, and under-represented and under-valued due to community norms and individual perceptions that exclude and oppress those who are visually perceived as others,” said Sung-Hee Chung , Executive Director of Powered Magazine. “Change is possible when we work in partnership and start with the visual. Projects like this show the representation of BIPOC Vermonters living, working and recreation in the outdoor sector and are beginning to normalize the landscape with BIPOC in it and create a comfortable outdoor feel for all.”
A key to the success of the partnership has been the involvement of Vermont outdoor businesses and organizations with a genuine commitment to promoting diversity, equity and inclusion in the natural world. Outdoor facilities, gear and supplies, and instruction were provided for BIPOC groups enjoying electric biking, hiking, bird watching, rock climbing and biking on the Island Line Rail Trail in Burlington and fly fishing and rowing on the West River in Brattleboro. Collaborating brands and organizations included Turtle Fur, Darn Tough Vermont, Petra Cliffs Climbing Center and Mountaineering School, Local Motion, Audubon Vermont, Orvis, Concept 2, Row Brattleboro Outing Club and Guide Robert Johnson III.
“We feel very fortunate to be a part of this project as it was a real opportunity to create an inclusive space for outdoor adventures,” said Torie Reynolds, Turtle Fur’s Senior Brand Marketing Manager. “The images really do show the joy , which triggers such an event.”
Many of the BIPOC participants confirmed that the support provided during the excursions resulted in a positive experience.
“Powered Magazine has given me space to try new things and not be afraid. Fellowship with other BIPOCs has helped me accept who I am and where I am on my outdoor recreation journey without apologies,” said participant Julissa Vesely. “It gave me a home.”
“I’ve never done anything like fly fishing before. It was a new experience that gave me peace and allowed me to take a break from my normal, fast-paced life,” said participant Jessie Anderson. “Otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to get this. The experience of being in a community where I felt safe made it easier to find joy in nature.”
Professional photographers Ming Poon and Irving Payne from Modaja Communications took pictures and videos during the excursions.
“As a multiracial person who grew up in Vermont and enjoys the outdoors, I love bringing and contributing to more BIPOC communities in the outdoors,” said photographer Ming Poon. “It’s also a joy to see those same people sharing their experiences with family and friends and planning future adventures.”
The project was supported by the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing (VDTM), which works to identify, remove, and reform barriers that prevent people of all backgrounds and abilities from connecting to Vermont as a tourism destination.
“This was a great opportunity and partnership that we were delighted to support,” said Heather Pelham, Commissioner of the VDTM. “Outdoor recreation and the tourism and hospitality sectors are vital to the state’s economy. Partnerships like these allow us to create a more welcoming experience for those interested in exploring all that Vermont has to offer.”
The VDTM, the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation, and the Vermont Outdoor Recreation Economic Collaborative (VOREC) supported the project through a grant from the Northern Border Regional Commission and USDA Rural Development to provide targeted support for the growth of the outdoor recreation economy and marketing -efforts.
“We know we still have work to do as a state and as an industry to welcome more people outdoors. From recreation to employment to representation… the outdoor industry can do better,” said Courtney Laggner, Darn Tough Vermont’s brand and community marketing manager. “We believe that by participating in events like this and capturing these stories, we’re helping show what a truly inclusive outdoor economy in Vermont can look like.”
About the Vermont Outdoor Business Alliance
The Vermont Outdoor Business Alliance (VOBA) is a nonprofit business organization with a mission to educate Vermonters about outdoor recreation and to educate Vermont outdoor recreation companies about business development initiatives, collaboration opportunities, and economic policies for outdoor recreation. One of VOBA’s priorities is promoting Equity, Justice, Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI) for underrepresented communities in workplaces and outdoor spaces, including BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, all abilities and women’s communities. VOBA’s JEDI work includes mission integration, facilitating change within the outdoor sector, and building community partnerships. Visit VermontOutdoorBusinessAlliance.org for more information.
About Powered Magazine
Powered Magazine, by Black, Indigenous, People of Color, is the Vermont non-profit organization that strives to create equitable outdoor spaces for all and is dedicated to improving the health and well-being of Black, Indigenous, People of Color, by providing access to exercise and opportunities to engage in outdoor activities. At Powered Magazine, we create and develop a safe, comfortable, and supported environment in which to learn, experience, and build skills and confidence to engage in outdoor recreation. It means empowering BIPOC to confidently take up outdoor space and share the joy of outdoor living.
About the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing
The Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing is committed to identifying, removing, and reforming barriers that prevent people of all backgrounds and abilities from connecting to Vermont as a tourism destination. Knowing that we are on the land of our ancestors’ stewards, we know the important role government has to play in promoting meaningful inclusion and representation. We recognize that there is still work to be done, and we are committed to being a leader and collaborative in local and statewide efforts to promote equity and accessibility in Vermont. Visit vermontvacation.com/ and thinkvermont.com/ for more information
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