Minnesota is a state blessed with abundant outdoor spaces. Pristine lakes, rocky shores, towering pines, dancing prairies, there is a never-ending, always-changing kaleidoscope of nature that beckons us to explore.
But not everyone feels welcome.
Historically, outdoor recreation has been a white, wealthy, able-bodied and male-dominated realm. Here in Minnesota, about 20 percent of Minnesotans identify as people of color. But according to a Department of Natural Resources study, people of color make up only five percent of state park visitors.
What can be done to encourage all Minnesotans to enjoy our rich landscape? Is there a way to make communities of color feel safe and welcome in traditionally white outdoor spaces? What kind of innovative programs are already addressing this disparity?
Grow the Future of Public Media
MPR News is supported by Members. Gifts from individuals power everything you find here. Make a gift of any amount today to become a Member!
On August 31, at a special In Focus, live at the Minnesota State Fair, MPR News host Twila Dang tackled these questions and more with two outdoor equity experts.
Anthony Taylor works tirelessly to connect Black people and communities of color to nature-based outdoor experiences and active living. He has led equitable outdoors efforts as Adventures Director for the Loppet Foundation and as SVP Equity Outdoors for YMCA of the North. He continues this work to make Minnesota’s green spaces welcoming and accessible to all through his work at the Met Council, The Cultural Wellness Center and various other municipal, state and community partners.
Asha Shoffner is an educator, adventurer, disrupter, auntie and the founder of Fiwygin Outdoors and the BIPOC Outdoors Twin Cities Facebook group. Asha also works for the city of Saint Paul as an environmental and outdoor education coordinator.
To listen to the full conversation you can use the audio player above.