Unlikely Outdoors Issue 04

A monthly digest of news, resources, things I like and whatever I want usually regarding diversity, inclusion and representation in the outdoors. Yeah, this is biased AF.

Compiled with love by, @JennyBruso, founder of @UnlikelyHikers.

Issue no. 4 – May 16, 2018

Welcome to Unlikely Outdoors! This is the fourth issue so I guess this is officially a thing. Please don’t judge me for how late it is. Doing this and being timely with it is extremely important to me, but I am just one human doing too many things and I had to ultimately choose to put this on the back burner. I still intend to release June’s on the first. Life is wild.

I started this newsletter because it can be difficult finding news and resources regarding issues of diversity in the outdoors and I want these resources to get the airtime they deserve! I also wanted a consolidated space to share things I find important and interesting.

Content is newest to oldest, spanning over the prior month, with an emphasis on newer resources. Occasionally, I include things I’ve recently found even if they’re long past their publishing date.

Wanna help? Wanna see your stuff included? I love me some small press stuff and I really want to include more blog posts. Body-positive and queer stuff a plus: thejennybruso@gmail.com. If you’d like notifications for the newsletter, sign up on the menu tool bar above to follow (yes, even if you did in the past. I had problems with the service I was using).

Thank you for reading and please share with your networks xo


Intersectionality and Long Distance Hiking/The wilderness is not an apolitical space

Carrot Quinn | April 30, 2018

Many great new posts form Carrot Quinn on her blog!

Everyone deserves to be able to just get away from the larger world for a while, but the issue here is that not everyone can. The long distance hiking community is made up primarily of white, straight, thin, cis gender, able bodied folks with money- people who aren’t directly impacted by much of what’s going on in the world. Privilege is the ability to decide what you do and do not pay attention to/give energy to/acknowledge as being real, because you’re not impacted by it directly.



This is What Adventure Looks Like

James Edward Mills | Outside | April 29, 2018

This is one of the most important things to have come out about diversity, equity and inclusion issues in the outdoors. READ THIS. And if you can track down a copy of the print issue, I highly recommend it. You’re going to want to remember this.

What happened is that underrepresented groups took control of the narrative. Utilizing digital platforms, they’re speaking for themselves. Organizations like Outdoor Afro, Latino Outdoors, and Out There Adventures have begun stripping away the presumption of a white, male, heterosexual experience. Even more importantly, by unapologetically presenting their unique points of view, they’ve shined a light on a rich heritage of adventure and environmental stewardship that has been there for generations.



[VIDEO] A Party Girl’s Fresh Start

Mic & REI | April 23, 2018

I recently had the fantastic opportunity to be filmed by the Mic Network in partnership with REI for their Human/Nature series, which “captures the small changes that real people can make toward a life well lived, a life outdoors.” I’m beyond honored. Some of these shots twist my heart right up, like I can’t believe that’s me.



[PODCAST] Dirt Bag Diaries – The Venture Out Project

April 2018

If you’ve been paying even a shred of attention, you know The Venture Out Project is my fave.

“I thought there must be some queer outdoor organization leading trips that I could go work for, but I didn’t find one. So, I got despondent for about twenty-four hours, and then I thought to myself, ‘I’ve led a corporate HR department, I understand how to run a business, maybe I should just start one’. And so I did.”



[VIDEO] Mass Trans Political Coalition

April 24, 2018

To raise awareness, Mass Trans Political Coalition (MTPC) Executive Director Mason J. Dunn and MaeBright Group Director Ev Evnen are hitting the trail with The Venture Out Project to #Hike4Rights. They’ll travel across Massachusetts along the Appalachian Trail – 95 miles total – to promote trans rights in public spaces like parks, trails, and so much more. Want to learn more and follow their journey? Check out www.Hike4Rights.org or follow them on instagram at #Hike4Rights.



Get Out Stay Out!

Karen Ramos | Melanin Base Camp | April 21, 2018

It tore my heart apart to know that in my community there were kids growing up ashamed of their culture, their roots, their skin tone. I thought long and hard and came to the conclusion that I could fight against this by giving them a safe space where leaders and mentors who looked like them, spoke like them could come together to play, explore and be shamelessly goofy, wild and silly in the outdoors. The outdoors offered the perfect environment to foster this intrapersonal growth.



The Guide Who Became a Toxically Masculine Feminist

Melanie Hamlett | Outside | April 20, 2018

This is for all of those girls who feel like they have to be one of the boys to get what they want. I have definitely known a lot of women like this and have also engaged in various forms of this behavior in certain environments. This is a tough read and super important.



For one Portland Navy veteran, fishing conquers war demons

Kale Williams | The Oregonian | April 18, 2018

Great interview with Chad Brown of Soul River Inc, an organization that connects inner city youth and US military veterans to the outdoors through incredible outdoor educational transformation experiences.

“The way I staged everything coming out of the military was just like boom, boom, boom, one after the other,” he said. “It was back to back for me and I didnt really have time to think about what i went through.”

Signs of mental health issues began to creep into his life toward the end of his time at Pratt. He sometimes got lost on his way home, a route he knew well. A couple times a month, he would find himself sobbing in the middle of the street for no particular reason.



Empower. Create. Share.

Erin Monahan | Terra Incognita Media | April 13, 2018

11 must-follow Instagram profiles, most with an outdoors focus. Many of my favorites are featured (Wild Diversity, Jolie Varela, Brown Environmentalist, etc.) and I was lucky enough to be named alongside them!



The Unlikely Hiker

Emilly Prado | The Portland Mercury | April 11, 2018

I was interviewed by the wildly talented, local writer Emilly Prado for The Portland Mercury. Such a great experience and I’m super proud of it!

Nine years after her first fateful walk in the woods, Bruso now leads several group hikes and helms a wildly popular Instagram page under the name Unlikely Hikers. It’s for folks who, like her, are deconstructing what it looks like and means to be an “outdoorsy” person.

“When I first started hiking [in 2012], I was immediately aware of who I was seeing on the trails. It wasn’t very diverse,” she says. “I wasn’t surprised by any means, but I really wanted to connect with other fat and queer people who were hiking—to connect with all kinds of folks who I wasn’t seeing on trails.”



A New Notion of Nature

GoRVing | Outside | April 10, 2018

Interview from GoRVing on Jose Gonzalez, founder of Latino Outdoors.

González, who migrated to the U.S. from Mexico when he was nine years old, has always been drawn to nature. In 2014, he launched Latino Outdoors. “Our basic premise is ‘Estamos aquí’, ‘We are here.’ And by that we mean that the Latinx community has been here in the Western United States for hundreds of years, and the landscape belongs to us as a culture as much as it belongs to anyone,” he says. “That’s the message that we’re trying to get out to the people. That this national park, where we are right now, is ‘our’ park as well, and with that comes a sense of opportunity and also responsibility.”



Diversity Is Cycling’s Most Urgent Problem—Here’s How to Fix It

Ayesha McGowan | Bicycling | April 6, 2018

This article is SO GOOD! Love seeing all of the attention Ayesha McGowan is getting.

Dear bike industry professionals,

My name is Ayesha McGowan, and I’m an elite road racer and cycling activist. You may know me from my mission to become the first African-American female professional road cyclist (which has been covered by outlets like BICYCLING, Outside, ESPN, and BBC News). I’ve also worked in bike advocacy, getting more women and people with disabilities into riding.



Smashing Guiding’s Glass Ceiling

Anna Callaghan | Outside | April 3, 2018

Sherpa women aren’t encouraged to climb mountains. But that wasn’t going to stop Dawa Yangzum Sherpa, who grew up in a Himalayan village with no electricity or running water but knew that she would one day summit Mount Everest. At 21, she stood on top of the world and then started a new quest: to become the first woman from her country to earn mountaineering’s most elite title—an IFMGA. (International Federation of Mountain Guides Associations.)



Unruly Bodies

Edited by, Roxane Gay | Medium | April 3-24, 2018

Hi, I need you to read these RIGHT NOW. I’m serious, this is the most important thing I’ve read this month. Please take care of yourself while reading and then share with your people.

Unruly Bodies is a month-long magazine exploring our ever-changing relationship with our bodies - the emotional, the psychological, the cultural, and the scientific. Gay has brought together 25 writers to expand upon the conversation she started in her memoir “Hunger.”



[PODCAST] Dear Patriarchy Ep. 3 – Queer Nature

Broken Boxes Podcast in collaboration with Indigenous Goddess Gang | April 3, 2018

In this episode of the Dear Patriarchy series we get into conversation with Queer Nature founders Pınar Ateş Sinopoulos-Lloyd and Sophia (“So”) Sinopoulos-Lloyd. Queer Nature is a Colorado-based project that creates a decolonially-informed queer futurism through earth-based skills. Queer Nature envisions and implements ecological relationship as a vital and often overlooked part of the healing and wholing of populations who have been systemically silenced and marginalized, such as the LGBTQ2+ population, and especially trans and queer people of color and two-spirit folks. Ecological literacy is deep relationship building with living and non-living earth systems through ancestral-futurist resilience skills including naturalist knowledge, so-called ‘survival’ skills, natural crafts, and local cultural/natural history.



Elyse Rylander Is a Trailblazer for LGBTQ Youth

Xian Chiang-Waren | Outside Magazine | April 3, 2018

“My vision, originally, was just to have a gay Outward Bound,” she says. But when OTA launched its initial programming in 2015, Rylander learned the extent to which the kids usually craved something more than just an eight-day backpacking adventure. “There is this need to connect and to find a community,” Rylander says, noting that queer high-schoolers often feel ostracized in their schools or peer groups. She refocused OTA’s programming to be especially attuned to participant’s emotional nuances, and to follow-up with groups and participants after an adventure in a way more similar to wilderness therapy than Outward Bound.



North Carolina: A Not-So-Warm Welcome

Ashley Manning aka YardSale | The Trek | April 2, 2018

Ashley is a rad, fat hiker currently on the Appalachian Trail. She is one of my absolute fave people to follow.

Immediately you are slapped with two huge mountains when you enter North Carolina. I struggled getting up both of them. I remember asking myself if these ascents would ever end. We pressed on to Muskrat Creek Shelter, and I thought that day would never end. I was exhausted, but I had no idea what was to come. North Carolina had it in for me, I felt. Albert Mountain is a monster that feels like you’re rock climbing rather than hiking. The view is incredible, though. I was totally listening to Phil Collins’ “Tarzan” soundtrack when I reached the top of Albert. Tears.



Things To Keep In Mind Traveling On Native Lands In America

Cali Wolf | How Not to Travel Like a Basic Bitch | April 2, 2018

Traveling the country as an indigenous woman also means that I take into consideration who called these lands home before their removal. My favorite travel destinations are National Parks which all have easily accessible, extensive native history. I have such a deep appreciation and connection to these lands that I would much rather travel to parks than cities. More often than not, indigenous peoples were forcibly relocated away from these sacred lands so National Parks could be established. When I visit these lands, I remember and honor these relatives.



Meet the Man Who is Building a Path for People of Color to Enjoy the Great Outdoors

Danny Sullivan | Seattle Magazine | April 2018

Great profile on Glenn Nelson, creator of The Trail Posse and frequent Outside Magazine contributor.


More Stuff:

April 30 – Reclaiming My Love For Nature – Aicha Lasfar | Melanin Base Camp

April 27 – Super fave thru-hiker, Chardonnay, featured on Cascade Hiker Podcast. Chardonnay is about to become a triple crowner!

April 26 – Blisters, Spirit, and Roy: My First 100 Miles – Katie Elder aka Spirit | The Trek – Spirit is a queer, non-binary hiker on the PCT blogging for The Trek!

April 20 – Ask Roxane: I’m Outraged, but Failing at Activism. Why? – Roxane Gay | New York Times

April – Native Land is what I use to indicate indigenous lands in all of my posts! It isn’t perfect, but it can help you do your own research about who the lands we recreate on belong to.

April 3 – We Need More Women of Color Working in the Outdoors – Kassondra Cloos | Outside Magazine

April – Alexandra Keeling on Van Life for She Explores

June 16, 2015 – The PTSD River Cure – Patrick Symmes – An older article on Chad Brown of Soul River Inc.

Updates from jennybruso.com:


Buy an Unlikely Hikers shirt so I can pay my rent! SHOP NOW!!!

Events & Group Hikes:

May 19: CANCELLED – Group hike – General
June 2: Group hike – Atlanta! – Sweetwater Creek
June 9: Group hike – Low Intensity – Forest Park
June 10: Group hike – Nice & Slow – Tualatin Hills Nature Park
June 13: Queer Adventure Storytelling
June 17: Group hike – General – Siouxon Creek
July 7: Group hike – Low Intensity – tba

Details for unlinked events coming soon. Dates and locations are subject to change on account of me being one human doing too many things. Check events page regularly for updates. All events in or near Portland, Oregon, unless otherwise stated.

More national dates are coming soon!

I offer three hiking groups for your varied needs: General, Low Intensity and Nice & Slow. See event page for more info on what this means and to find the right group for you! Hope to see you on a hike!

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