Our Blog

02 JunMake sure your public statement isn’t window dressing: There is your public statement, and then there’s the work


By: Ava Holliday and Aparna Rajagopal In her essay “Poetry is not a Luxury,” Audre Lorde wrote "there are no new ideas-there are only new ways of making them felt." (Sister Outsider, p. 39). Over the past week we have heard people speak their truths and share ideas, and we will likely continue to. We are listening, learning, and feeling right along side many people. We don’t have any new ideas, we but hope with this blog post to add a lens to make existing ideas land for you in a different way, as many are trying to understand how to e...

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01 AprVideo & Resources on COVID-19 & Conservation/the Outdoors


Dear Community, Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we at the Avarna Group have been trying to figure out our role, what to say, and how to move forward. We know that COVID-19 has exposed structural inequities and injustices that predated the pandemic, and that individual and institutional responses to the crisis can exacerbate these inequities. But what does that have to do with the outdoor recreation, conservation, and environmental community? Well, it turns out a lot. Earlier this week, we hosted a webinar with over 300 member...

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10 DecWhy it’s not enough to enlist board members of color: a cookie tale


As the year draws to a close and my family enters cookie baking mode, I’m thinking about a harder nut to crack than chestnuts on an open fire: white-led conservation and outdoor nonprofit boards.  We’ve noticed that in their urgency to diversify, many conservation and outdoor nonprofit boards have been clamoring to recruit more people of color. More and more, we’re interacting with boards that have successfully identified and enlisted board members of color.  But we’re also noticing that despite the best of intentions, board div...

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20 SepThe role of white affinity spaces in anti-racism work


In the spring, PGM ONE organizers asked me to write a piece about why white folks shouldn’t show up to PGM ONE. It was a piece that flowed out of me easily. I had been having the conversation about the importance and value of affinity spaces for people with marginalized identities for several years now. In that piece, I talked about how watching PGM ONE from afar created a tension between my white feelings and my values. Often they are at odds, and I encouraged my fellow white colleagues to do the work to process through those feelings outsid...

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25 MayAnd . . . here’s yet another equity v., equality (v. justice) image series


We wanted to tell you the story of why we decided to create yet another equality v. equity (v. justice) image series, which you can access here. For those of you who have been engaged in some conversation about equity in the past ten years, you inevitably have come across some version of the equity v. equality image – the one with a fence, people, and boxes. And if you scratched the surface of the Internet to learn about these images, you would also know that there have been many, many iterations, think pieces, and critiques of these image...

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24 AprBearing witness to painful stories


Similar to when Camber Outdoors unveiled its 2019 Pledge, we (Ava and Aparna) have had a lot of thoughts and ideas swirling around in our heads as the #WontTakeSHIFTAnymore campaign has rolled out. We have brains that tend to go into a mode that we lovingly call, “entropic processing overdrive,” in which we have a million constellations of thoughts on several planes, without much of a logical pathway. But in all of that chaotic processing, we both keep coming back to two things: one related to the substance of campaign, and the other re...

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06 FebWhen you fail to do the work


A statement by the founders of the Avarna Group. As a company, we’ve been quiet about the announcement of the Camber Outdoors CEO pledge over the past few days, but not for lack of thoughts about the whole situation. On the contrary, we’ve been teeming with thoughts. In between flights, workshops, and phone calls we’ve been trying to put it all together. If you're unsure what we're talking about, you can catch up here. In 2018, we intentionally kept quiet during announcement of Teresa Baker’s pledge and Camber’s announcement of ...

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20 DecAnother year around the sun


  Dear colleagues and friends, 2017 has been another momentous year for the Avarna Group. We want to thank you for continuing to support us, inspire us, and serve as champions for a more socially and environmentally just world. Here's our year in numbers: 101 days of travel 32 places 55 partners since we launched: 35 new partners this year 2 new Avarna team members (José González and Katie Koga) Support of 2 identity-specific summits (PGM ONE & the LGBTQ Outdoor Summit) This summer, we welcomed Katie ...

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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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