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By: Aparna Rajagopal-Durbin

25 Sep“But we’ve always said ‘biner!’” exclusionary words in outdoor recreation and education


Actually written by Guest Contributor Monserrat Alvarez [caption id="attachment_2568" align="alignleft" width="225"] Monserrat (Guachichil/Mexica) is an outdoor educator from the South who works for a more equitable and inclusive Outdoors. She currently works at cityWILD as their program assistant where she combines her love for the Outdoors, youth development, and social justice.[/caption] The ways we show up for communities and marginalized folks starts with our words. Our words hold power. Our words have impact. We cannot use ignorance...

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19 SepNature’s calling — for diversity to be about more than just race


Dear CNN, Like many colleagues, we were thrilled to see that the topic of diversity in the outdoors has made it to mainstream media with your article “Nature's calling -- for more human diversity.” And we were even more pleased to see so many partners and friends gaining a national platform for this very important conversation, and contributing some key insights. AND . . . we would be remiss if we didn’t say a big “yes, and . . .” to add to and complicate the oversimplified narrative that you and other media outlets continue to prop...

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24 MayEquity means supporting single identity spaces


We know diversity allows organizations to think out of the box, be more creative and innovative, problem-solve better and see around corners. But leading with diversity can undermine equity, especially when it comes to single identity experiences for people with marginalized identities. To be clear, today we're talking about single-identity spaces for people with marginalized identities. Single identity spaces for white folks or men, for example, is another topic for another blog post. Here, we’re referring to spaces created by and for pe...

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09 MarWe’re expanding – welcome José!


Photo credit: Glenn Nelson at Trail Posse Friends and colleagues, We are thrilled to announce that José Gonzalez is joining the Avarna Group! We are so grateful to be able to learn from José, who brings a wealth of experience in conservation, outdoor and traditional education, and facilitation. José's name probably rings a bell with most of you, as he has had a tremendous impact on the conversation surrounding relevancy, equity, inclusion, and diversity in the outdoors in the recent past. José is the founder and Executive Direct...

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18 JanWhat Does President Obama’s Memo Mean for You?


Implementing President Obama's Memo on Diversity & Inclusion in Public Lands & Waters Dear valued partners and friends: We’re writing to announce that we’ve created a new free toolkit that we hope will help all of you. As many of you know, last Thursday, President Obama made an impactful statement on diversity, equity, and inclusion in our public lands and waters when he issued his Memorandum on Promoting Diversity and Inclusion in Our National Parks, National Forests, and Other Public Lands and Water. The memo directs fede...

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19 DecThank you for taking this trip around the sun (and nation) with us!


Map above: The Avarna Group's 2016 Travel Map; 38 cities, 19 states, 102 days Greetings and happy winter season esteemed partners, colleagues, and friends, This season we are filled with so many feelings, but the one feeling that rises to the top after our first year at the helm of this ship called the Avarna Group is gratitude. So, we wanted to take this opportunity to thank you all for everything you have done to support us and the work that we do. Thank you for your questions. Thank you for listening to us and others with open ears...

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12 JulConnecting the dots: why black lives must matter to the environmental movement


There is no such thing as a single issue struggle because we do not live single issue lives. - Audre Lorde (photographed above) In the days since the police shot and killed Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, we’ve seen the gamut of reactions on social media: from outpourings of sympathy, to grief and despair, to anger and rage, and more. As we’ve monitored the Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram feeds, we’ve also been reflecting on what role we at the Avarna Group have to play in this civil rights movement. Here’s where we’ve lande...

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01 JulFrom the knapsack of privilege to the backpack of bias


When we ask workshop participants whether they have done an activity called "the privilege walk" before, hands inevitably shoot up, accompanied by furrowed eyebrows, skeptical glances, and other hallmarks of concern. I can almost see the thought bubbles above their heads: Are these women going to make me do the privilege walk . . . AGAIN? The sin qua non of every diversity trainer's repertoire of activities, the privilege walk, has a long and storied history. It builds off of Peggy McIntosh's touchstone 1988 essay, "White Privilege: Unpacki...

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12 MayWhen in doubt, ask “in service of what?”


In one of our early workshops, I was considering whether to share my personal experience of taking the Implicit Association Test. In short, I discovered that I actually have unconscious biases that really surprised me, left me feeling dismayed, and quite frankly, a little horrified. Nevertheless, I thought it was a great anecdote to share with workshop participants to describe what it's like to have an uncomfortable "aha!" moment, and how to move forward. The night before our workshop, I casually mentioned to Ava that I intended to talk about ...

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30 MarA guide to building DEI bridges


  As diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) professionals, we envision ourselves as bridge builders. Each person is in a different place in their understanding and experience, so we can't expect everyone to magically comprehend the complexities of privilege, oppression, and colonialism (let's be honest: we're still trying to understand all the complexities). So we first tease out the knowledge and mindsets people already possess, and then figure out how to build a bridge to meet them where they are so they can continue to move forward i...

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