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On thru-hiking and life lessons learned, Black outdoor history, building trust, and "figuring out what your selfish motivation is for working towards our collective liberation."

Below, I paraphrase a few of my favorite parts of the chat with timestamps.

Click to watch:


*Start at minute 3:30*

1. (5:00) What do you hope to experience when you're thru-hiking or playing in the outdoors?

2. (10:15) Lowlight and Highlights from thru-hiking:

Pre-hypothermia and what it was like to summit the tallest point of the Pacific Crest Trail

3. (20:20ish) What are lessons you've learned from the trail that you'd like to carry into everyday life?

Patience. Forgiving myself when things don't go as planned. "You get to be the you that you are today." Also, food is delicious.

4. (26:25ish) In honor of Black History Month (acknowledging this isn't the only time to be looking into history but it is just as good as any time to dive in): What has it been like for you - being Black and outdoorsy - and how do you see that fitting into the broader context of Black History?

As Black people in the United States, we have always been outdoors. It's important to acknowledge outdoors people like Harriet Tubman - I consider her one of the first Black guides, bringing lots of people to freedom through the wild.

[My family is] very close to the land we were enslaved on, and close to the land that has made us and shaped us over the years. It is amazing and wonderful and important to acknowledge. I also want to acknowledge I don't exist in a vacuum, there are so many humans and organizations who are doing amazing work encouraging community in the outdoors.

For example:

    • People of the Global Majority and especially the work of Grace Anderson
    • Dr. John Frances - walking the country after witnessing an oil spill and deciding to stop driving/rising in cars
    • Brittany Leavitt - getting a public climbing wall installed in Baltimore
    • (Aubrey adds) GirlTrek and their podcast series Black History Bootcamp: A walking challenge
    • She Colors History - Chelsea Murphy's @she_colorsnature 28 day challenge to learning about 28 Black women during Black History Month
    • Another good one! Outdoor Journal Tour for Black women, reflecting and creating community together

For me, being Black and outdoorsy is ... even though I feel alone, and in some cases, am alone and "standing on my own to feet," that is not what is happening. My ancestors are with me when I walk.

5. (35:00ish) Comedic break: Where did your trail name come from, Zuul?

6. (38:00ish) What kind of vision do you have for people and the outdoors that looks sweeter than what we have right now?

I really want to see a world where we are all as free as we can be. There's a saying, 'We are none of us free until we all are.' For me, what that means is: finding ways to work inside of the system that already exists, and to create our own ways, based on our own ways of knowing and of viewing the world, to be in relationship with the outdoors...
I would love to see the outdoor community BECOME a community. We talk a lot about the outdoors community but it is still segmented and hierarchical. I don't think it needs to be.
Where I think it starts is this concept of transformative justice. Not just attempting to restore what is lost when harm is caused, but really finding ways to understand ourselves and understand others as not being disposable.
It's very easy especially these days to be terrified of making a mistake. And so... nobody does anything. Because I don't know if I can do that, because I don't want to make a mistake! And certainly not in front of other people.
There's a desire not to get called out for bad behavior. I can say from experience that it does not feel good and doesn't reflect what you would like to think of yourself... but we're human and we make mistakes.
We have to foster an environment where making the mistake isn't the big bad that we've made it out to be. But that being accountable is necessary for coming back into community.
I really believe that people who try are going to make mistakes.
We all - every single one of us (myself included) - are going to cause harm.
What I hope to see in the future is that we can have these breaks (separations) from community - we don't see eye to eye, there's confusion, etc - AND that it doesn't mean you get thrown away as a person.
[Path to healing] You do the hard work of apologizing. [You recognize] what led you to causing the harm in the first place. [You] Work to change the thing that caused the harm in the first place. And [you] work with the folks you harmed to get them what they need.
And that can be really difficult - because sometimes what people need when they've been harmed is a break from you. That break could be short, or that break could be long. Respecting whatever the person who has been harmed needs - is part of the process. It's part of the trust-building process.
There's not a lot of trust here right now.
It's a matter of making sure we believe people instead of asking "well, did it really happen the way you said it happened?"
Impact is more important than intent.
Finding ways to exist with each other on that equitable playing field makes trust much easier.
It's that trust that we need to build in the outdoor community. I would love to see more people building that trust.
(Aubrey) It means relationship.
(Amanda) It means community. Coming into community with one another. That is the future I would love to see.
I don't think we're going to get there in my lifetime.
I'm a big fan that changing ourselves changes the world in very real ways.
Even little things that we do, even if we don't think that they make much a difference -- ie. if you're teaching two people about the outdoors, it's just small potatoes -- but those things change us, they change others, and we go on to take those things into other parts of our lives.
Everything that we do has this ripple effect, and so the more trust we can build the better the future we are going to be building.
7. (48:20) Small is Significant: Let's talk about JOY! There's a lot of hard work to do when it comes to creating a more equitable future -- we won't pretend this isn't hard. But it isn't ALL hard! How have you seen the ripple effect of following what brings you joy and delight in any given moment?

Joy is a practice, particularly in these times. You have to be actively seeking joy. ... I also think it needs a bit of reframing. I was taught that joy is when you go on vacation and sit on a beach and sit and do nothing. That can be joyful for some, but one of the things this year has taught me to do is to find joy in smaller things, and find joy in harder things. For example, dishwashing...

even though I don't necessarily like taking the time out of my day to do dishes, what I do like is that when I do take the time to do them, my kitchen is cleaner, and when I want to cook I can do so more easily because I don't have to wash the dishes first.

So being able to reframe joy as -- not exhuberant, overwhelming (the mountaintop) -- but reframing it as pleasure, the everyday: the taste of the food I just cooked, the reverberation of my cat sitting on my chest, the smaller moments.

Emma Goldman (paraphrased) - if dancing isn't part of your revolution, then I don't want to be part of the revolution.

"Instead of moving away from what we don't want, I think it's really really important to rephrase this to be moving towards what we DO want."

I want to ask everyone listening:

What is your "selfish" motivation (to quote Charlene Carruthers) for wanting to do this work? What is the type of world you want to see? How is the work that you're doing helping bring that into being, even if it's small?

Liberation. Let's just keep trying to get all of us FREE.

9. (-55:00ish) Wrap up and sneek peeks for upcoming Redbudsuds products and events

Follow @browngirlonthenst for more from Amanda or read her blog at


filed under: Camper Chat

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