Our Blog

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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16 MarOn self-care


This week both Aparna and I are engaging in some self-care. Aparna’s was planned - she is out in canyon country with her family, enjoying a few days away from the computer before we hop back into a whirlwind of travel and work. I am taking some less-than-planned self care time as I battle a cold. But first, what is self-care? Well, there are a lot of definitions, but I always think about self-care as the work I do for myself that allows me to be fully present in all aspects of my life, including my work at Avarna. Being present at work ...

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03 MarChanging Mindsets With Mad Facilitation Skills


I teach at Montana State University's Department of Education, which educates the next generation of teachers. But what I've found is that teacher education programs don't really teach teachers how to facilitate--they teach them how to teach. Teaching and facilitation are two very different things, and in our work, facilitation is much more crucial for achieving truly transformative learning, building bridges across difference, and creating coalitions for change. For years, I've been figuring out how to facilitate the hard way. And it's tho...

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18 FebThe real story behind the Yosemite trademarks


On March 1, 2016, in the wake of Delaware North’s exploitation of trademark laws, many of the iconic places in Yosemite National Park—including Curry Village, the Ahwahnee Hotel, the Wowona Hotel, the Yosemite Lodge, and Badger Pass Ski Area—will be renamed. There are (understandably) many people and organizations who are frustrated with Delaware North’s monetization of a public good. But in all the public outrage, we may be overlooking an opportunity to look deeper into history of place-naming. A toponymn refers to the name of a pla...

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03 FebWhy engage in equity, diversity, and inclusion?


Most organizations that reach out to us what to know how to proceed with equity, diversity, and inclusion  (DEI) efforts. They are hungry for best practices, toolkits, checklists, and training on how to tackle the elephant that is DEI  ("How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.") But focusing on the "how" and "what" takes us away from the more foundational question of "why." The success of DEI work is predicated on organizations being able to clearly articulate why equity, diversity, and inclusion should be prioritized. If you canno...

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21 JanWhat can outdoor and environmental organizations learn about inclusion from MLK’s experience?


Photo above: Martin Luther King, Jr. marching from Selma to Montgomery with John Lewis, Reverend Jesse Douglas, James Forman and Ralph Abernathy. I had a very different idea about what I was going to write about this week to commemorate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day; I was about halfway through writing the post when I reached for Carolyn Finney’s Black Faces, White Spaces to verify some dates. As I was thumbing through the pages, I found a page that I marked with an alarming number of exclamation marks. Curious about what had gotten me so...

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07 JanWhat Does Cultural Relevancy Mean Anyway?


This post is dedicated to Vu Le at Nonprofit With Balls, whose bold nuggets of gold we can only aspire to produce, and who has inspired us to fearlessly “go there.” Disclaimer: For those of you engaging in cultural relevancy work without a working definition, this blog post is intended to call you in, not call you out. “Cultural Relevancy” is a phrase that is being bandied about in the outdoor and environmental sector. But the more I hear it, the less I believe we’re all on the same page as to what it means. Try Googling "cultur...

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21 DecHow to Give When You’re a Nonprofit . . . With No Money to Give


Recently Latino Outdoors’ founder José Gonzales shared his passion for collective impact at the Outdoors Empowered Network summit. Collective impact is a model by which deeply entrenched societal problems are tackled through innovative collaborations across nongovernmental organizations, agencies, private enterprise, foundations, communities, and other stakeholders. Though not without its flaws, collective impact is also a framework to think about giving and gratitude when you’re a nonprofit with no money to give, especially during the ...

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09 DecTackling the Blob: Getting started on equity, inclusion, & diversity work


NOTE: If this post leaves you hungry for more information, join us on January 21st for this free webinar, hosted by Transforming Youth Outdoors. Embarking on equity, inclusion and diversity work can feel like you’re tackling a shape shifting, amorphous giant while simultaneously trying to swim a mile in maple syrup. Or something equally challenging, frustrating, and confusing. At social events, I often get to tell people about the work I do and inevitably, they will make reference to an organization, an article, or a movement that pertains...

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