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Scrapbook: Yes We Care

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Sierra Club Scrapbook

October 13, 2009

Yes We Care

There is a myth that Americans of color don’t care about the environment. There is a myth that we’re not interested in hiking, camping, and adventuring. Don’t believe it!

This past September’s Breaking the Color Barrier in the Great American Outdoors conference is concrete proof that we care. We care a lot.

We care so much that when conference co-founders Audrey and Frank Peterman presented an opportunity to convene and address the issue of diversity and the environment, hundreds of us showed up ready to learn, share ideas, and take action.

Audrey and Frank Peterman Frank and Audrey Peterman, co-founders of the Breaking the Color Barrier conference. Photo courtesy of Dorothy Littlejohn, used with permission.

Speakers and panelists discussed the challenges and progress we’ve made so far in bringing more people of color into outdoor careers and recreation. On the final day of the conference we broke into committees to work on the issues of youth, systemic change, technology and media, policy implementation, resource directories, and stewardship of stories.

Working committees Carolyn Finney (left) gathers participants' input on partnership and funding opportunities.

It was truly encouraging to meet and chat with trailblazers of color hailing from all over the nation. There were park rangers, bloggers, environmental consultants, students, reporters, educators, and community organizers, just to name a few. And each of us represented communities and organizations that care deeply about diversity and the environment. 

Yes we care!

BCB crowd
The diverse and attentive crowd at the Breaking the Color Barrier conference. Photo courtesy of Dorothy Littlejohn, used with permission.

The Sierra Club cares too. I was excited to meet seven Sierra Club staff members and volunteers who are working to bringing diversity, youth, and “green” together.

Sierra Club attendees Representing the Sierra Club!  Bill Vanderberg, Dorothy Littlejohn, Pearl West, Vernard Williams, Juan Martinez, Debbie Chong, Seandra Rawls, Melody Anderson, and Rita Harris.

The Sierra Club’s Building Bridges to the Outdoors, Inner City Outings, and Water Sentinels programs provide opportunities for youth to connect with the natural environment through hiking, camping, and water quality monitoring activities.

Sierra Student Coalition mobilizes and trains young environmental leaders, while our environmental justice organizers work with local communities to fight for clean air, water, and neighborhoods for everyone.

Read about Americans of all ages and backgrounds exploring America's national parks on the Sierra Club’s Youth and Diversity Stories page.

Debbie Chong is the 2009 Communications and Online Organizing Apprentice at the Sierra Club headquarters in San Francisco. In her free time she enjoys hiking, biking, and exploring the Bay Area's diverse cultures and neighborhoods. 

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