The Inquiry Series: Exploring Inclusivity
Wilderness Inquiry’s mission is built upon the foundational concept of inclusion. Through our work, we believe in building a just outdoor community where everyone belongs. We are committing to acknowledging the systemic barriers and structures of oppression that limit access to outdoor spaces for many. We also acknowledge the responsibility we hold as an organization of privilege in doing our part to break these barriers down. One step of many we are taking in our Wilderness Inquiry JEDI (justice, equity, diversity, inclusion) Commitment, is to listen and make space for individuals and organizations who represent diverse identities to be the leaders in the narrative of outdoor inclusion.
Please join us as we introduce The Inquiry Series: Exploring Inclusivity, a speaker series featuring leaders in inclusion and diversity from across the country whose incredible work is paving the way to ensure everyone belongs in the outdoors.
This webinar-based series is free to register and will feature monthly speakers whose stories and work challenge the access and inclusion narrative of outdoor recreation and education.
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Founder of TranSending - she/her/hers
March 24th, 2021 - 7:00pm CST
Being represented and having your voice heard in the outdoors can be tough for any woman; and Erin Parisi is no exception. Erin lived hidden for several decades in fear. When she finally reached out and began her gender transition, visibility was the furthest thing from her mind. Realizing the force suppressing her for decades was the lack of representation and a misconstrued narrative of trans women, she began a journey to become the first known trans person to stand on the highest point on every continent - a mountaineering goal known as the Seven Summits. While approximately 500 people have completed the feat, fewer than 20% are female. Erin hopes to prove to the world that she refuses to hide and will not be relegated to the shadows any longer. With four of the Seven Summits completed, Erin hopes to build on her goal with two summit bids planned for 2021. Join Erin in this month’s session to learn about her story and her work
Check out transending7.org to learn more about Erin and her work!
Founder of The Venture Out Project - he/him/his
April 14th, 2021 - 7:00pm CST
For this session we hosted a special screening of the film, Venture Out: a story of overcoming odds, the power of resilience, and ultimately, the ever-lasting effects of LGBTQ+ community building. Following the 20-minute film, we were joined by The Venture Out Project (TVOP) founder, Perry Cohen, for a live discussion and Q&A about his and TVOP’s work to make the outdoors a more inclusive space for queer, trans, and LGTBQ+ communities and individuals.
Check out ventureoutproject.com to learn more about Perry, TVOP, and the great work they do!
Founder of Disabled Hikers - they/them/theirs
June 2nd, 2021 - 7:00pm CST
Syren grew up with multiple invisible disabilities and encountered numerous barriers to outdoor recreation. Despite these barriers, Syren has always found connection with nature to be a source of comfort. As a long-time disabled activist and community builder, Syren is committed to an outdoors culture transformed by fair representation, accessibility, and justice for people who are often marginalized in the outdoors. They are the author of The Disabled Hiker’s Guide to Western Washington and Oregon: Outdoor Adventures Accessible by Car, Wheelchair, and Foot, to be published by FalconGuides. This session will include a review of disability language and culture, information on what people of different abilities need for accessibility in the outdoors, and ways to support the disability community. Check out https://disabledhikers.com to learn more about Syren and their work in making the outdoors accessible!
Kareem Neal, M.Ed.
Teacher at Maryvale High School - he/him/his
June 30th, 2021 - 7:00pm CST
A major avenue of access to outdoor spaces and outdoor careers for young people is through educational opportunities. However, many young people, especially BIPOC individuals and those with learning differences, face significant barriers in education that compound to limit opportunities for inclusion in outdoor communities. For this month’s session, we’re joined by Kareem Neal, whose passion for connecting all students in schools will guide us in exploring what it means to truly feel one is a part of an educational community, and the impact of what meaningful connection through learning has on feeling included in larger society.
Kareem Neal is a self-contained special education teacher in Phoenix, AZ. He is the recipient of the 2019 Arizona Teacher of the Year award, and was recently awarded an honorary doctorate from Northern Arizona University for his contributions to special education. Kareem is a 2019-2021 Understood Teacher Fellow. He is also on the board of directors for the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards and helped pilot the National Network of State Teachers of the Year mentorship program. Springing from his awareness that students with learning differences did not truly feel like members of their school communities, Kareem was inspired to evaluate his own educational journey and how students in black communities often do not feel like education spaces are for them. Kareem is now a restorative justice trainer for the Phoenix Union High School District. He focuses on building community through eliminating bias that comes from lack of connection with people who are different from each other.
Journalist, The Joy Trip Project - he/him/his
July 28th, 2021 - 7:00pm CST
James Edward Mills is a 2014 Fellow of the Mountain & Wilderness Writing Program of the Banff Centre in Alberta, Canada and the 2016 recipient of the Paul K. Petzoldt Award For Environmental Education. In 2021 he was awarded the title of National Geographic Explorer. As a freelance journalist and an independent media producer in a career that spans more than 20 years he specializes in sharing stories about outdoor recreation, environmental conservation, acts of charitable giving and practices of sustainable living. He has worked in the outdoor industry since 1989 as a guide, outfitter, independent sales representative, writer, and photographer. He is the author of the new book “The Adventure Gap: Changing the Face of the Outdoors” and the co-writer/co-producer of the documentary film “An American Ascent”
James is a contributor to several outdoor-focused print and online publications such as National Geographic Adventure, Rock & Ice, Alpinist, SUP, Elevation Outdoors, Women’s Adventure, the Clymb, Park Advocate, High Country News, Appalachia Journal, The Guardian, Outside Magazine and Land & People.
Currently as a faculty assistant at the University of Wisconsin Nelson Institute For Environmental Studies James teaches a summer course for undergraduate students on diversity, equity and inclusion in outdoor recreation and public land management called Outdoors For All.